Why Social Distancing is Key to Ending COVID-19 Pandemic

Social distancing is the key to diminish the rate of spread of COVID-19 — physical contact must be extremely limited. Work restrictions, public location closures, and severely limiting travel other than essential food and medical needs will reduce the rate of the outbreak.

Social Distancing Concluded Necessity

Omid Shahnaz translated Irancovid-19.com from Farsi to English to come to an important deduction. Practicing physical distancing activities will reduce the rate of infection and delay the desperate time needed to reach the peak — or apex of the curve.

The apex represents the number of patients currently infected at one time — that is the highest number of cases in a state or country. The more time taken for the peak to be reduced and delayed over time, the longer period health care will be afforded to treat patients with severe COVID-19 respiratory symptoms. This shows that social distancing actions will reduce the number of deaths.

As stated by Shahnaz:

If limited physical contact reasoning is valid then the apex is reflective of the serial interval number. The serial interval number is the time it takes between a first symptomatic person to when the next person will be infected and display symptoms.

A smaller interval number equates to an increased rate of virus reaching apex and, hence, more difficulties in efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The conclusion by Shahnaz shows how social distancing is a vital necessity to slow virus spread to make time needed to identify and isolate infected cases.

Social Distancing Will Reduce Infection Rate

Through social distancing practices, the serial interval number can be prolonged over time to reduce the rate of infection needed for the curve to reach its peak. This allows for the necessary period to implement important measures of testing, isolation of cases, and health care systems to prepare. The vital time is needed for a population’s health professionals to become equipped with necessities of equipment, personnel, and personal protective equipment (PPE) as it continuously treats patients with respiratory symptoms.

The needed time to reach apex is a clear indication of how the serial interval number and rate of infection affect each other. The faster the curve reaches apex is indicative of shorter serial interval numbers and of higher reproduction rate — R0>1. This means increasing difficulty in efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social distancing mitigation allows for longer time needed for the curve to take to reach the peak. This equates to higher serial interval numbers allowing for more time to reinforce the infrastructures of healthcare systems and resulting in saving lives.

Social Distancing Slows Reach to Apex

Flattening the curve should be seen as an exhaustion of reaching apex. This means an increase in the serial interval number reducing the rate of the infection resulting from continuation of mitigation endeavors over time.

Primary effort should be directed towards prolonging the apex. Serial interval numbers need to be increased while there is a decrease in rate of infection. All must exhaust efforts in social distancing and mitigations to wait for infection to decline and flatten the curve. These primary mitigation practices slow down and reduce numbers of cases at one time giving needed time to implement secondary mitigations.

The curve’s apex is not the natural path of the COVID-19 pandemic. The peak is a direct result of the mitigations in place to affect COVID-19 trajectory over time and reflective of the serial interval number and rate of infection.

Primary efforts must be directed in delaying time and rate of infection needed to reach apex. Simultaneously other secondary measures must be implemented after peak is reached once sufficient different testing procedures data has been collected.

Flattening the Curve Through Social Distancing

Mitigations needed to prolong time to reach peak include different testing procedures over time, isolating infected cases, contact tracing, and social distancing. Flattening of the curve is necessary for much vital time needed to reinforce the healthcare system to reduce the illness and mortality rate.

Curve flattening is a sequential function of delaying the time and decreasing infection rate needed to reach apex. This is reflective of prolonging the serial interval number and reducing the rate of the infection to R0<1 as a result of necessary and sufficient social distancing and all mitigations in place.

Succeeding in flattening the curve will be accomplished when efforts have worked to prolong time to reach apex. This means an increase in the serial interval number and a decrease of time the pathogen spreads in the population. Reducing the reproductive number (RO) and spreading process to reach RO<1 to end the COVID-19 pandemic will be a result of social distancing and mitigation efforts.

Thank you to Omid Shahnaz for providing his research, text, and insight to make this article possible — along with his Farsi to English translation.

As per Shahnaz translation of Iran COVID-19:

The Iran Covid-19 team consists of top Iranian scientist who have scientifically predicted a major humanitarian devastation which is taking shape in Iran and will accelerate in the near future. This is seen as a direct result of a deliberate and conscious inhumane act by the IR of Iran against the people of Iran but also the global community.

In no event, shall we or our employers, be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages however caused and on any theory of liability arising in any way out of the use of the predictions reported here, even if advised of the possibility of such damage.

Originally published at https://nynj.com on April 12, 2020.

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