In the last week, you’ll probably have heard the term "social distancing" more than you ever realised was possible.
But it’s hard to grasp what exactly it is, and why staying in your house is the best way to do it. Social distancing practices are changes in behaviour that we can all take, which can help stop the spread of viruses like COVID-19.
As most of us now know, this this means avoiding unnecessary social interactions, working from home if it’s possible, closing down schools – in the service of reducing the pressure on hospitals and other health systems. It means that even if infections do spread, they'll hopefully spread much less quickly than if we had just continued as normal.
A graphic, created by graphic designer Gary Warshaw based on research by the University of San Diego's Signer Laboratory, was shared by Ireland's deputy prime minister. It displays why social distancing is so important if we're going to "flatten the curve" of the coronavirus epidemic.
It says that if people carry about their business as normal, the number of cases of an infection like the novel coronavirus could grow quickly, making it more difficult to deal with.
But it also says that cases can spread less quickly if we all pull together and commit to social distancing. What that means in practice is that health services and health workers will hopefully have more time to prepare for infections and people who aren’t well could have a better chance of making it through.
This is a goal that we're sure we can all agree on in these challenging times.
If graphics are your thing, The Washington Post created some incredible images which also display the importance of social distancing.