The coronavirus pandemic is expected to get worse before it gets better, a global health expert warned, stressing the best way individuals can limit the spread is to strictly observe social distancing – the practice of avoiding close contact with other people.

Swee Kheng Khor, a doctor who studies global health policies at the University of Oxford, made the assessment even as some of the world’s political leaders continue to defy his advice while imposing the same restrictions in their countries.

Dr. Khor, who has extensive experience in disaster relief, said vaccines are at least 12 to 18 months away, and there is no cure for coronavirus.

As part of the health guidelines on social distancing, mass gatherings – from rallies and concerts to religious events – are to be avoided, and individuals are advised to maintain at least one metre (three feet) distance from others.

But even if the science behind social distancing is strong, governments “find it difficult to impose” the practice, because it goes against the “instinct of humans” and it carries with it political and economic costs, noted Dr Khor, who is also a senior fellow on health policies at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.

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