The Science Behind Social Distancing
RTÉ One in Ireland explains the science behind social distancing – an important point in the grip of a global pandemic.
Does it feel like social distancing is a practice without end? If so, watch this. Our doctors and public health officials have a very specific goal in mind, and it’s all to do with one particular number.
As part of a new series of Explained by Prime Time focusing on COVID-19, Mark Coughlan and public health experts take you through what the ‘r-nought’ number is, why it matters, and what you can do to change it.RTÉ One YouTube Channel
This Irish production explained the phrase “social distancing” – and described how public health doctors have a clear target in mind: the R-Nought.
What is the R-Nought?
An estimate of how many people an infected person will come into contact with. The novel coronavirus has an R-Nought score of 2.5, which means each infected person will, on average, infect 2.5 people.
The following elements exist in any viral transmission:
- Duration – the time a person is infectious
- Opportunities – to spread the infection
- Transmission – whether or not an opportunity leads to transmitting the virus
- Susceptibility – of the population
Where do We Come In?
We have no control over the duration we are infectious, or how susceptible we are to the virus.
BUT we can reduce the opportunity and the transmission of the virus. We can reduce opportunity by staying home and not spending time with other people while we are infectious – and while we do not have the virus.
Also, we can reduce transmission by practicing social distancing and washing our hands thoroughly.
If through our behaviour, we can reduce the R-Nought score below 1, then the infection rate will actually reduce, and the number of infected people will go down, instead of up.
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Stay home and save lives.
In This Story: COVID-19
Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.
Symptoms of coronavirus
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
- a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
- shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)
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In This Story: Ireland
Geopolitically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. As of 2016, 4.8 million people live in the Republic of Ireland, and 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.
The Irish climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and thus very moderate, and winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area, although summers are cooler than those in continental Europe. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant.
A strong Irish culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music and the Irish language. The island’s culture shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing, and golf.