Sex should be avoided by self-isolating couples who do not live together or who fall into one of the vulnerable categories when it comes to getting coronavirus, an expert has warned.
Others who have a “bohemian” sex life which involves mixing with other people should give it up for now and stay at home, Professor Paul Hunter advised.
Sex should be avoided for seven days if one partner shows symptoms – a cough or fever – and lives separately from their other half, he said.
And even couples who live together should abstain if one of them is in the higher-risk groups – aged 70 or older, has an underlying illness or is pregnant – and one of the two people has possible Covid-19 symptoms, the professor added.
The Government has issued strong advice to people to socially distance themselves as much as possible to slow the spread of the virus, and to self-isolate if they have symptoms or live with people who do, but has not given specific information on what to do about sex.
Prof Hunter said: “If you or your partner are self-isolating because one of you have symptoms (cough or fever) then providing you live together then you do not necessarily need to give up sex for the seven-day period recommended for individual cases to self-isolate.
“However, if your partner is in one of the vulnerable groups because of age, pre-existing disease or she is pregnant, then you need to stay away from them as much as possible, and this would mean avoid sex for the first seven days.
“If your partner does not live with you then they should be staying away.”
He also advised avoiding sex if one of you is feeling unwell, and reiterated the advice on good hand hygiene.
He said: “The evidence is unclear about whether vigorous exercise is bad for you when you are acutely unwell with fever or pneumonia. Nevertheless, it would probably be best to avoid sex whilst you feel poorly.
“Whether you do or do not still have sex during this period, remember to wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds and avoid touching your or your partner’s face with unwashed hands.”
Couples who have no symptoms and are social distancing can continue to enjoy their usual sex life if they live together, but mixing with others for sex is not advised, he added.
Prof Hunter said: “If your sex life is rather more bohemian and you cannot get to have sex without mixing with some/many other people, this mixing is advised against, so stay at home. This is especially important if you are in one of the at-risk groups.”
He said the main risk of catching the virus during sex “comes from being close, face-to-face, through droplet spread, through kissing and touching each other’s faces”.