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HomeNewsSocial Distancing - Why it's Vital to Save Lives

Social Distancing - Why it's Vital to Save Lives

Posted on Friday, 27 March 2020 8:21 am | Category: Coronavirus As a nation, we're being asked to take unprecedented steps to limit our movement, but why is social distancing so important?

Never before in our history have such stringent restrictions on our activities and movement been placed on our lives. But why are we being asked to stay at home and how does this help?

It's actually a simple statistical problem, in normal day-to-day life every person with Coronavirus spreads the virus to an average of 2.5 people, so after the first 5 days, 2.5 other people will contract the virus. (OK so you can't actually get a half a person but this is an average!) This doesn't seem too bad at first but then those 2.5 people will spread to another 2.5 people and they will then spread to another 2.5 people and so on. This creates a logarithmic curve where the number of cases rises slowly at first then rapidly increases, so after the first 30 days, we now have 406 cases of Coronavirus from only one initial carrier.

So now if we cut contact down by half, we are now only seeing each carrier infecting 1.25 people after 5 days. If everyone is following the same advice the virus will continue to follow the same cycle but now after 30 days we now only have 15 people infected with the Coronavirus. Let's reduce this even further now and cut down contact to only a quarter of normal levels. Now after 5 days our carrier has only infected an average of 5/8ths of a person and after 30 days we now only have 2.5 people infected from our original carrier.

By slowing down and reducing the spread of the virus we can keep our hospitals below their capacity. Hospitals only have a limited number of staff, beds and ventilators and if they get overwhelmed by a sudden influx of cases and go beyond this capacity figure they're unable to treat all cases. Social distancing reduces the number of cases and the rate of spread of the virus and while this may mean that the epidemic goes on for a longer period of time, the number of cases needing hospital treatment stays lower.

It's important to remember that not everyone who contracts the Coronavirus develops symptoms but can pass on the virus to others. This is why the Government is keeping everyone at home and not just at risk groups. The virus seems to cause different levels of symptoms in people of all ages and just because you're young, that doesn't mean that it won't be serious. Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.


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