By Zoe Bradbury
It seems the world has gone crazy for coronavirus – and not in a good way. From toilet paper shortages, to people abusing others for coughing on trains, to the cancellation of public events, coronavirus (or COVID-19) is vastly changing the way we interact with others – and it seems there’s no end in sight.
Health guidelines are suggesting that we maintain a six feet distance away from anyone who displays flu-like symptoms, and many workplaces are now banning handshakes. The French government has even banned kissing on the cheek, which has been a French custom called bise for years.
And with an increasing number of people self-isolating, even despite not having the illness, how do we meet new people? How do we show affection, how do we maintain intimacy? And if you’re in a relationship, is the coronavirus just a great excuse to remain indoors, cuddled up and make those window fog?
Love, dating and sex is of course possible while this pandemic sweeps the world. It just takes a little extra precaution.
Coronavirus is not a sexually transmitted disease, says Anna Muldoon, a current PhD candidate studying infectious diseases, with more than 10 year’s experience in science policy for the US Department of Health and Human Services.
However, “all sex is close contact. You’re breathing on each other, you’re hopefully touching each other a lot,” she told Vox.
As such, “kissing is probably the most efficient way to spread the virus”.
We all know the feelings of a cold coming on – the back of the throat starts to hurt, the nose starts to run, the head may start to feel a little foggy.
In previous times, this may have not been a decisive factor in cancelling a date, especially if it’s one that’s been in the works for a while, or if you just can’t seem to get that guy out of your head.
But now, with the coronavirus rife, should you cancel the date anyway?
Experts are encouraging people to use common sense, not avoiding dating people altogether.
“If you have viral symptoms such as fever, cough, cold and runny nose, then you should definitely avoid dating and kissing others,” anaesthesiology resident Dr. Taylor Graber from the University of California San Diego told mashable.
In saying that though, “I do not believe we need to shut down dating amid the coronavirus. In young, healthy adults, there is a very low risk of contracting serious consequences of the illness,” he said.
So, if you feel sick, cancel the date and reschedule to a further time.
If your neighbourhood isn’t known as a coronavirus hotspot (e.g. Wuhan or Northern Italy), and there are no confirmed cases, then it’s unlikely you need to ditch your local pub, says Muldoon.
It might be time to reconsider concerts, though.
“There’s a big difference between small community a whole bunch of people coming from all over the place to concentrate themselves in a small space,” she says.
Many cities are banning large public events, and even Coachella has been rescheduled from its April weekend to a later date in October.
In a time where people are concerned to be in social gatherings, staying indoors and logging onto a dating app may soon be even more popular than ever before.
“Historically, dating app usage spikes whenever people do have to stay home,” Hannah Orenstein, a senior dating editor at Elite Daily and former matchmaker, told Buzzfeed News.
As such, Tinder has even created pop ups of health and safety guidelines and information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), displayed as people swipe through potential matches.
It’s also opening up the conversation and encouraging people to communicate more efficiently before they first meet up.
Chief dating expert from Match, Rachel DeAlto, told the Washington Post it’s actually a great opportunity to be more perceptive and go on ‘pre-dates’ online.
First meeting on FaceTime and Skype can gauge whether people are worth meeting in person in the first place.
Isn’t there just something romantic about sharing a glass of wine over FaceTime, miles away from each other?
If you feel unwell, cancel the date and reschedule for a time you’re feeling better. But cancelling plans simply out of fear of contracting the disease is a bit of a stretch, especially if there are no confirmed cases in your area.
“People should take a quiet chill pill, sit down and get on with their lives,” Australian Public Health Association Chief Executive Terry Slevin, told the ABC.
“My advice is beware of other communicable diseases like sexually transmitted diseases. That would seem to a far more serious consideration.”
Dating business as usual, it seems.
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