Dr John Hall.
Dr John Hall.

Keeping your distance has never been more important

WE’VE heard it 100 times, how to protect yourself against COVID19 but sometimes it’s the 101st time that sticks.

Rural doctors are advising the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus is to keep your distance, wash your hands, and remember metres matter.

Dr John Hall, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) said rural communities are in the best position to slow down the spread of infection.

“In some ways rural communities are the best protected,” Dr Hall said.

“There are simply less people gathering, travelling and visiting, and from fewer places, than in the cities.

“When it comes to ‘social distancing’, the key way of slowing the spread of coronavirus, it is just easier for us due to our space and lower population numbers.

“The main thing to remember is to always keep your distance. Metres really do matter!” Dr Hall said.

“Stay 1.5 to 2 metres away from other people – this is the simplest and most effective way of preventing person to person spread.

“The other pivotal bit of advice is to wash your hands. Soap and water is best, but hand sanitiser (if you are lucky enough to have obtained a supply) is still very good.

“Use your card instead of cash when shopping, don’t shake hands, hug or kiss unnecessarily, and remember that well people can still be infected.”

The other important control measure, helping not only protect yourself but other communities as well, is to reduce travel.

“The absolute best advice is to stay home as much as possible. Use the time to catch up on household chores, watch Netflix, talk on the phone … whatever works for you,” Dr Hall said.

“If you can work from home – do so. If you were planning on catching up with friends – FaceTime them instead.

“There are far worse things than being contained at home for a period of time … and one of those is having severe complications from coronavirus.

“A big difference between coronavirus and a regular virus is that nobody in the community has immunity to it. This means that while other viruses go around missing those people that have been previously exposed to that particular or similar strain, everyone has what we call a ‘naive immune system’ to coronavirus.

“Simply put, this means that more people will get infected. Add into that the higher level of severe respiratory complications that we are seeing with this virus, and we can see why it is overwhelming the health systems in other countries,” Dr Hall said.

“Help us all out by following the advice:

— Keep 1.5 to 2m away from other people

— Practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene

— Avoid handshaking and kissing

— Regularly disinfect high touch surfaces, such as your phone, tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs

— Visit shops sparingly and buy more goods and services online

— Consider whether outings and travel, both individual and family, are sensible and necessary

“And if you are sick, stay away from others – that is the most important thing you can do.”