Social distancing has become necessary due to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation and the government of Ghana have stressed on the need for a strict observance of social distancing as a measure to curb the spread of the virus.
In as much as social distancing is key to ending COVID-19, we cannot overlook the huge toll this is taking on people in various ways.
The normal ways of going about our lives are gradually fading away as many more people are adopting new ways of doing things that will be line with observing social distancing.
Since COVID-19 is easily transmitted through person-to-person contact, the normal ways for interacting with people physically have changed to doing things virtually now, which doesn’t feel as effective as having personal contact.
In Ghana and other parts of the world, the need to observe social distancing has affected education, businesses, relationships and other ways of life.
All schools, from the basic to the tertiary level have been closed down and it has had a huge toll on the people in the education sector.
“I was in my final semester, about to finish and get my degree, but because of social distancing, I’m at home and can’t be at school to finish my project work and I don’t even know what will happen next,” a final year student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology bemoaned.
“And if we are to even go back to school, how are we going to interact with our mates and lecturers if we are to still observe social distancing? I mean it’s going to be hard and difficult,” he added.
For a JHS 2 student we spoke to, staying at home is getting boring and she misses her friends.
“I can’t go to school and I miss all my friends… It’s getting boring at home,” she said.
Teachers are also experiencing their share of the problem too.
“I teach in a private school and our source of income has been affected,” was the complaint of a basic school teacher that we spoke to.
“I miss the classroom atmosphere and the bonding I had with my students. I still teach them via zoom but I don’t enjoy it like I do when I stand in front of them in the classroom,” was the response of another teacher we spoke to.
Aside from schools, social distancing is also affecting small scale business too.
A seamstress we spoke to stated that she barely opens her shop these days. She is no longer getting customers as she used to mainly because people are not going to events.
“I don’t come to the shop a lot anymore, because my job requires me to take measurements of people and getting them to try on my ready made dresses. It’s frustrating!” she said.
A photographer we spoke has not had a gig since March 2020 and he points out social distancing as the reason.
“The only photos I take now is of my family, I don’t get any gig because there are no events going on. It’s hard because that’s my only source of income.”
Social Distancing is affecting personal relationships too as people don’t get to interact with their loved ones as they would have.
“I tend to view people like a plague that must be avoided… no handshakes, no hugs… it’s awkward,” was the response from an individual we spoke to.
“As someone whose main love language is touch, I get sad a lot and because I don’t get that feeling of being loved… it is slowly bringing in depression,” another person said.
There is an inherent need in everyone to interact with other people and in these times where interactions are limited, a lot of people are unable to cope and this is slowly increasing the number of mental health cases in the entire world.
This shows how the need to observe social distancing is affecting people even though it is important in minimizing the spread of coronavirus.
However, observing social distancing is not a choice we are privileged to make; it is a requirement and we must all adhere to it if we need this virus to be eradicated quickly. These are hard times, but we must all do everything we can to stay safe, stay indoors and observe all necessary protocols in place.
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