Health & Fitness

Intimacy and coronavirus

Love in quarantine times
Love in quarantine times. PHOTO | COURTESY 

As the Covid-19 quarantine goes on, a number of Kenyans are seeking solace and distraction through intimacy.

But can one get coronavirus through sexual relations? BDLife has put your questions to Prof Rodney Adam, an infectious diseases specialist to separate facts from the myths.


They say Covid-19 has no cure yet but I wonder how people with the infection are treated and turn negative from positive with only one death record so far.

It is not correct to say that there is no cure. The more accurate answer is that there is no specific antiviral treatment. A majority of infected people (over 99 percent in many countries) recover by themselves and after recovering, they are likely protected from a future infection. That means that the record within Kenya is the norm. What people see in the news is the severe end of the spectrum; the hospitalised patients.


After testing negative, why does someone have to wait for the second test before he or she is discharged from hospital?

When the amount of virus is very low, the PCR test can be negative one day and then positive the next. In China, the follow-up negative test was part of their public health approach in which the hospitals were used to isolate people even after they were feeling well to prevent them from transmitting the infection to others.

I really want to know what type of masks are able to protect one from coronavirus. The masks I am seeing in Kenya are so light.

The first question is whether masks make any difference in the routine public setting at all. That is why many of us who follow the field do not wear masks. Outside the medical setting, the most important use of masks is for people who are coughing and might infect others.

When will the vaccine for Covid-19 be out?

It will be a minimum of months and likely much longer. First, it has to be shown to be safe and effective. There is no guarantee that any of the current vaccine candidates will satisfy those requirements. What if you have a vaccine that revs up the immune system in the wrong way and makes it worse instead of better? Once these requirements are met, then the manufacturing and distribution systems will have to be developed in an unprecedented fashion to meet a global market.

Does the virus spread through normal breathing as well or only when the infected person coughs?

The virus spreads primarily from symptomatic people from their coughing or sometimes from sneezing (although sneezing is not a prominent symptom). It is unlikely that it spreads from normal breathing.

When a covid-19 patient is in isolation with mild symptoms, what measures, medicines should one take to ease sore throat, cough and fever or loss of appetite? Is there a medical guideline to follow?

Remember that any medicine is strictly about treating the symptoms. Do the symptoms bother you enough to take medicine? If the sore throat or fever is making you uncomfortable, take paracetamol, not ibuprofen or related drugs. That may also decrease the discomfort of coughing. There is no specific treatment for loss of appetite. A decreased appetite for a short term is not detrimental; but do force yourself to eat something.

Does the coronavirus spread through contaminated food even after being cooked?


What about fruits, can someone get by eating fruits not washed properly?

There is no current evidence that coronavirus can be spread through food. The virus has to get to your respiratory tract from someone else's respiratory tract. That will not happen easily from eating foods.

Can coronavirus be transmitted through sex? What about oral sex?

Covid-19 is not formally labelled as a sexually transmitted infection. However, because it is spread by respiratory (including oral) droplets, there is a high chance of infecting someone during sex if one is infected.

Intimate touching and kissing, puts you at risk of catching or spreading Covid-19.

It is recommended that you wash before and after sex because the virus can live on surfaces for hours.

We have seen the government fumigating streets and markets, is this effective and if yes what is the science?

It is unlikely to make a difference in taming the coronavirus spread, but it could have other benefits.

Prof. Rodney Adam is an infectious disease specialist and the chair of Infection Control Taskforce at Aga Khan University Hospital

Send your health questions to [email protected]