By Associate Professor Dr Rafdzah Ahmad Zaki
The Prime Minister of Malaysia has announced a Restriction of Movement Order starting from 18 March to 31 March 2020.
This measure is an attempt to ensure social distancing between people.
Public health experts have been urging people to practice social distancing to stop the spread of infection and slow the progress of the current pandemic.
A simple way of understanding the effect of social distancing is using the domino effect concept. The domino effect is the situation in which something -- usually something bad -- happens, causing other similar events to happen.
The domino effect can be visualized by placing a row of dominoes upright, separated by a small distance. Upon pushing the first domino, the next domino in line will be knocked over and so on until all the dominoes have been knocked over.
Increasing the distance between the dominos will prevent the next domino to be knocked over, thus breaking the chain of reaction.
Imagine the spread of a virus is like the toppling of a line of dominoes. The domino effect will not stop until the chain is broken. Thus, the transmission of infection will continue to occur until we break the chain by increasing the distance between people.
If no preventive measure is taken and social distancing is not practiced, the virus will continue to spread affecting the whole population.
COVID-19 can be spread by tiny droplets released from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they cough or sneeze. Droplets forming a direct spray that is propelled up to two meters away from the source of an infected person. These droplets can land on other people, clothing, and surfaces around them, as well as the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
In this current pandemic situation, Malaysians are urged to comply with this Restriction of Movement Order to break the chain of infection. This to avoid the situation from becoming out of control and needing total lockdown.
(Associate Professor Dr Rafdzah Ahmad Zaki is Public Health Medicine Specialist, Department of Public Health, Universiti Malaya Medical Centre)