The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control advises the public to ‘use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact ‘.
Glory holes are small holes cut into walls or barriers that allow people to have sex with as little skin contact as possible.
The health chiefs also encourage people to wear face masks during sex and to use condoms, lubricant, and dental dams to ‘further reduce the risk by minimising contact with saliva, semen and faeces during sex’.
New York offered its citizens similar advice in a guide which says: ‘Make it a little kinky. Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.’
Although Covid-19 is not known to spread through sex, it could be transmitted in the breath and saliva of people who are close together if one of them is infected.
Glory holes are being encouraged as a safer way to have sex by health chiefs in Canada amid the coronavirus pandemic (stock image)
Other states have encouraged sexting and video-call sex alongside masturbation and claim ‘you are your safest sex partner’.
While having sex with someone in your household that isn’t displaying any symptoms is permitted in the UK, it is advised that precautions should be taken if you are having sex with people you don’t live with.
It comes after doctors at Harvard University published a study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine and ranked sexual scenarios in the following order of risk, from lowest to highest:
- Abstinence – No sexual contact of any kind. Behaviour adds no risk of infection, ‘though unfeasible for many’.
- Masturbation – ‘Low risk for infection’.
- Sexual activity on digital platforms – Low risk for infection but potential for online abuse, legal complications arising from screenshots, not suitable for minors because of the potential for abuse or illegality.
- Sex with people within household – High risk of infection if partner catches the virus outside of the home.
- Sex with people from other households – High risk of infection, especially if there are multiple partners.
A study done at the beginning of June found that out of 900 adults in Britain, only four out of 10 have had sex since the start of lockdown, with young married couples most likely to have done so.
WHAT ADVICE DID THE CANADIAN HEALTH CHIEFS ISSUE?
- Ask your partner(s) if they’re feeling unwell or have any symptoms of Covid-19.
- Before and after sex: Wash your body with soap and water. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash sex toys thoroughly with soap and water before and after use. Do not share them with multiple partners.
- Wear a face covering or mask.
- Heavy breathing during sex can create more droplets that may transmit Covid-19.
- Avoid or limit kissing and saliva exchange.
- Choose sexual positions that limit face-to-face contact.
- Use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.
- Using condoms, lubricant, and dental dams may help to further reduce the risk by minimizing contact with saliva, semen and faeces during sex.
Boris Johnson last month announced that you are allowed to stay the night at someone’s house without following social distancing rules.
People are also urged to check in with sexual partners about whether they’re experiencing symptoms. Showers before and after sex are also recommended, according to the BCCDC.
The advice, believed to have been issued last month, went viral on Twitter overnight.
Harvard experts, led by Dr Jack Turban, said in a paper aimed at doctors: ‘Patient[s] should be counseled on the risk for infection from partners.’
Admitting that telling people not to have any sex was unlikely to work, the team suggested risk-reducing measures.
These measures included avoiding a partner if they had coronavirus symptoms, no kissing, or activities that involved contact with faeces, urine or semen.
Researchers in China found traces of the virus in Covid-19 patients and those who have recovered.
While it is unclear whether the virus has been found in urine, other coronaviruses have been detected in blood, faeces and urine.
They suggested couples could consider wearing masks, showering before and after sex, and disinfecting the area where they had sex afterwards.
Dr Jack Turban and colleagues said: ‘Data are lacking regarding routes of sexual transmission.
‘Two small studies of SARS-CoV-2–infected people did not detect virus in semen or vaginal secretions…
‘Moreover, these data are moot, given that any in-person contact results in substantial risk for disease transmission owing to the virus’ stability on common surfaces and propensity to propagate in the [throat] and respiratory tract.’
They said studies had suggested urine and faeces could be contaminated by the coronavirus but it wasn’t clear if they were infectious.
Dr Turban and his colleagues said the public was almost certain not to follow a rule that tried to stop them from having sex.
They said: ‘For the population at large, a recommendation of long-term sexual abstinence is unlikely to be effective, given the well-documented failures of abstinence-based public health interventions and their likelihood to promote shame.’
A survey by scientists at the universities of Anglia Ruskin, in Cambridge, and Ulster in Northern Ireland, found that only 39.9 per cent of Brits say they have been sexually active during lockdown.
The research, published at the end of May, showed six out of 10 people in the UK have not had sex for more than two months, since the strict social distancing rules were imposed.
Younger married couples were the group most likely to still be sexually active, the study found.
The scientists said it was a concern because regular sex can improve people’s heart and brain health, as well as their mental wellbeing.
Dr Lee Smith said: ‘When starting this research we expected there to be a high level of sexual activity while social isolating at home, but interestingly we found a very low level.
‘This low level of sexual activity could be explained by people currently feeling anxious and stressed owing to the pandemic and not being in the mood to engage in the act.
‘Moreover, those who are not married or cohabiting may not currently be able to meet up with their sexual partners and similarly those who use online apps to facilitate casual sex will currently not be able to do this.
‘A lot of my previous research has shown that a frequent and trouble-free sex life is important for higher levels of enjoyment of life and general mental health, and this is particularly true for older adults.
‘However, this study showed that older adults were less likely than younger adults to engage in sexual activity.’
Dr Lee’s study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.