Physical not social distancing

The term social distancing is misleading because in times like these we need to stay emotionally and socially connected.

28 April 2020
social distance w.out text

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KHARTOUM, 27 April 2019 – UNICEF, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN partners, is supporting the transitional government of Sudan to contain the spread of COVID-19 by procuring medical supplies, providing guidance, spreading awareness and encouraging society to stay connected.

Social distancing, which refers to maintaining physical space of at least one metre from the nearest person, has been effective in working to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, the term social distancing has created some misunderstandings as some people mistakenly believe that the term social distancing means, changing your relationship status with people or that we need to be separated from family and friends.

Due to this misconception, the WHO have begun to use the term “physical distancing”. The terminology was changed in order to emphasize that while physical distance should be maintained people can remain socially and emotionally connected to their loved ones, and family.

Public health experts advise that, in the interest of mental health and well-being, we all make efforts to feel connected, emotionally and socially to others during this unprecedented time. Ways to stay in touch with others include video chats, phone calls and via social media. 

Here are some other necessary measures to take to practice physical distancing:


  1. Adhere to the lockdown rules if applicable to your country/state.
  2. Avoid shaking hands and hugging. Say salaam/hello from a distance of at least one metre when greeting others. 
  3. Avoid contact with someone who has cold/flu-like symptoms including cough, runny nose, fever, difficulty breathing and body aches. 
  4. Contact the 24-hour help lines 9090 or 221 (Khartoum) for more information about COVID-19 and the need for hospital consultation or referral if you suspect you are experiencing the coronavirus symptoms above.
  5. Follow the guidance of the FMoH by avoiding large gatherings in public spaces such as markets, mosques and other clubs/conference halls.
  6. Avoid social gatherings especially weddings and funerals during and after lockdown.
  7. If possible and where relevant to lockdown rules, work from home to protect yourself and your family. While at home, regularly open windows to ventilate rooms with fresh air.  
  8. If you must go to the grocery store/market/bank/bakery, keep a distance of at least one meter from other people to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

Media contacts

Fatma Naib
Chief of Communication & Advocacy


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child and is committed to the children of Sudan. We never give up on finding solutions that provide immediate help to save the lives of children or provide durable support so that those children grow up with dignity, health and an education.  

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