OTTAWA, Canada — Sex in a pandemic can be complicated, Canada's lead medical doctor says, and it's best to skip kissing and perhaps wear a mask to prevent spreading COVID-19.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, issued a public statement Wednesday on staying safe from the virus when engaging in sexual activities.
"Sexual health is an important part of our overall health. However, sex can be complicated in the time of COVID-19," the statement says, with risks increasing for partners engaging with people outside their household.
"The lowest risk sexual activity during COVID-19 involves yourself alone," Tam advises. But for Canadians choosing to "engage in an in-person sexual encounter" outside their bubble, she suggests a number of steps to reduce risk, including "avoiding face-to-face contact or closeness."
A trusting relationship should first be established, and partners should also consider using a mask that covers the nose and mouth, Tam says.
"Current evidence indicates there is a very low likelihood of contracting the novel coronavirus through semen or vaginal fluids. However, even if the people involved do not have symptoms, sexual activity with new partners does increase your risk of getting or passing COVID-19 through close contact, like kissing," her statement.
Sex should be avoided if either person has COVID-19 symptoms, the statement says, suggesting "limiting your use of alcohol and other substances so you and your partner(s) are able to make safe decisions."
The most common health advice was also echoed: to continue to practice safe sex, including by using condoms and knowing the STI (sexually transmitted infection) status of oneself and your partner.
"By taking these precautions and staying conscious of the risks we assume, Canadians can find ways to enjoy physical intimacy while safeguarding the progress we have all made containing COVID-19," Dr. Tam's messaged concludes.
Canada has seen more than 129,000 cases of COVID-19, including 9,135 deaths, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.