Social distancing as an approach to disease control

Social distancing is a measure that is taken by health officials and other official bodies to curb the spread of a highly contagious or infectious disease. The legal authority to conduct the social distancing is given only to the nation’s public health officer.

About social distancing measure as an approach

This measure is taken when the disease is highly infected mainly in the pandemic scenario. Like in past during the 1957 to 58 pandemic this measure was taken as it was found to spread in public gatherings like festivals, conferences, meetings, etc. The disease at that time that caused pandemics was influenza. So health officials took the approach by cancelling big events, closing schools, and other offices, and limiting the groups of people in each public setting. They found that without distancing measures this disease shall spread more and it would be difficult to mitigate with an immediate measure. So the public health officials announced this strategy. Also, during COVID-19 2019 when the officials observe a huge spread and high mortality among infectious people, the official bodies of each nation announced lockdown and social distancing. While easing the lockdown each place of the public gathering had the guidelines of social distancing of a minimum of 2 metres away from each other to avoid the spread. Like in meetings, theatres, parks, parades, etc limited people were allowed and they had to follow the distancing norms followed by important temperature check and basic symptoms check.

In a social distancing following are the basic strategies followed that were successful in mitigating the disease spread:

  • The public or private schools, universities, and colleges were closed and officials were instructed to continue their educational system online. The gradually hybrid system was allowed with social distancing like 50% of the students allowed offline and others shall continue online on alternative days
  • In public transport, theatres, airports, etc when the ease of lockdown took place strict guidelines on having social distance with yellow marked in each area where provided. For example: In halls, people had to seat leaving one chair in between; standing in a queue in the circles made by the staff of public health.
  • Companies had to change their policies to keep their employees safe from the covid. 50% of employees who were allowed to office had their separate desk sections for work and maintain social distance in offices. The companies had to set flexible shifts and communicate through online medium mainly for any important notice on meetings or work-related matters.

By minimising interaction between possibly infected persons and healthy individuals, or between people with high levels of transmission and groups with no or low levels of transmission, social distancing tries to reduce or disrupt COVID-19 spread in the population. This measure reduced the cases of covid in many regions like Wuhan, Italy, New Zealand, etc.

Cons of social distancing measure

Cons: with this approach, many people suffer from anxiety, depression or isolation which makes people suffer from serious mental illness. This measure caused some serious psychological impact on the society for which this measure is not appropriate in the long –term. But based on the severity of the pandemic this is one of the major measures to stop the spread. So to overcome many wellness programs, and mental health helplines, strong online communication is suggested.


To stop the spreading of the highly infectious disease this measure was found to be very effective along with the measure of lockdown during covid-19.  The population needs to understand and cooperate. Because of the way new coronavirus spreads, establishing social distance is the most efficient measure to avoid and control the disease. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, South East Asia WHO’s Region Director, discovered that social distancing strategies helped limit virus transmission.



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