Photo: Valérian Mazataud The Duty
As of June 22, concert halls, and cinema can accommodate up to 50 people, 1.5 meter distance, and young people under 16 years of age may bring up to one meter.
The director of Quebec public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, announced Monday morning a relaxation of the rules of detachment physics in certain contexts and for young people under 16 years of age. As of June 22, concert halls, and cinema can accommodate up to 50 people, 1.5 meter distance, and young people under 16 years of age may bring up to one meter. However, some countries have already adopted such rules of distanciation for their entire population.
While the world health Organization recommends maintaining a distance of at least one metre between people to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19, France adheres to this recommendation by imposing on its people to adhere to a meter of distance between the citizens. In Belgium, in Germany and in Australia, it has opted instead for a 1.5 meter. In the United States, it was decreed that the six-foot, or 1.8 meter, were required. In Canada, like the United Kingdom and Switzerland, it requires two meters. But why therefore impose two meters distance if other countries manage to déconfiner with a distance of a meter, knowing that, for many services, such as public transport, restaurants, theatres, museums, a metre less-changer ?
“It’s a tricky question, because it is at the heart of the risk assessment and the decisions that the government must take on the terms and conditions of the déconfinement. But, if you want to be consistent, it will be necessary to rely on the scientific data. We must also take into account the probability that an infected person is close to us, as well as the risks and benefits of the choices that will be made, ” says Dr. Marc Dionne, a medical consultant to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ).
The medical journal The Lancet has recently published an article in which the authors have reviewed and analyzed the results of over 200 studies that evaluated, among other things, the risk of transmission of the virus according to the physical distance between two individuals.
This article shows that, if one is within one meter of another person, the risk of contracting the COVID-19 or the transmit is 12.8 %, while if it maintains a distance of one meter and more, this risk drops to 2.6 %. If one steps back two feet, the risk decreases by half and is no more than 1.3 %. “The fact of standing one metre cuts of nearly 80 % the risk of becoming ill. The benefit of switching from a distance of less than a metre to a metre is much larger than that of moving a distance of one metre to two metres “, says Dr Gaston De Serres, medical epidemiologist at the INSPQ.
In addition, ” as there are fewer cases [of infected people] than at the beginning of the epidemic, the impact of be two metres instead of one metre is necessarily less than when the disease was more common “, he emphasised.
“Of course, two meters of which will better protect against transmission, but the fact of maintaining two meters brings a lot of constraints. Decision-makers must weigh the risks and benefits. If one takes into account that the risk of transmission, two meters would be better than a meter. But if one considers the various situations of life in society, as in the bus, the distance of two meters results in big difficulties to carry out the transportation of all road users, ” he continued.
Decision-makers must weigh the risks and benefits
— Dr. Gaston De serres
According to Dr. Dionne, ” for our young people in day care or school, the damage caused by the absolute maintenance of the distancing of two meters is probably greater than the risk they face of being seriously ill if one relaxes this rule. For a variety of other activities, the constraints imposed by the two meters with a meter will explain and possibly justify to opt for a meter “, he adds.
“Not only distance, but also the source of transmission is the viral load of the infected person, and exposure duration are important in the risk of transmission,” emphasizes Dr. Donald Vinh, infectious diseases physician at the McGill university health Centre. “Nurses and respiratory therapists who have treated people very sick, and whose viral load was very high, have contracted the disease following an exposure of only ten minutes. However, rubbing shoulders with an asymptomatic individual, in which the viral load is much lower in a grocery store for ten minutes does not cause the same risk. “
A meter poses an acceptable risk to the general population
— Dr. Donald Vinh
The distance to be maintained between individuals also depends on the context, ” Dr. Vinh. “If it is in a park, outside, where there are strong currents of air, it would be acceptable to reduce to one meter, but not if you find yourself to 25 people in a room, like a small restaurant. “
“A meter poses an acceptable risk to the general population, but for people at high risk of developing a severe form of the COVID-19, or of having complications, such as the elderly, it would be better to keep a distance of two meters in their presence “, he believes.
The correct decision is not so obvious. One thing is certain, ” the first meter of distance needs to be maintained. We will then be able to decide that, even if it is less well protected, the drawbacks of stand to the two meters are so large that it will tolerate a risk of COVID-19 a little bit higher, ” says Dr. Greenhouse, before giving the example of the French authorities, who have chosen to adopt the distance of one meter. “This choice allows more transmission than two meters, but in the French context, ask for two meters may be physically impossible, given the fact that they are more numerous and that the spaces are more restricted. If we want our society to function, it is obliged to tolerate a certain level of transmission. The French authorities have therefore considered that this result was more tolerable than those generated by a distance of two metres, which would not have allowed, or made possible, the déconfinement “, he explains.