Public health officials in one Canadian province issued a new set of guidelines for having safe sex during the coronavirus pandemic.
The results were nothing short of frank.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control pointed to masturbation, virtual sex and positions that limit face-to-face contact as the safest options in a fact sheet published Wednesday, saying it’s better to acknowledge the reality than “shame people.”
“I think the worst thing we can ever do is shame people,” Nicole Pasquino, the clinical practice director at Options for Sexual Health, told the Canadian broadcast service CBC News. “Sex is an important part of all people’s lives and it’s not something that’s just going to stop when there’s a pandemic, nor should it for some people that are able to continue in a low-risk way.”
The number of coronavirus cases in Canada recently spiked but is still far below figures in the U.S., Reuters reported.
Officials recorded 574 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, Global News reported, bringing the country’s total number of cases to 113,785 with more than 8,900 deaths as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins.
The U.S. has recorded nearly 4 million cases.
British Columbia is Canada’s western-most province and is home to more than 5 million people. Health officials there reported 30 new coronavirus cases Tuesday for a total of 3,328 cases.
In Wednesday’s updated guidelines, British Columbia’s public health agency said individuals who are not sick or otherwise showing symptoms should make informed decisions about having sex.
The agency highlighted masturbation as the safest option.
“You are your safest sex partner,” the guidelines state.
Officials also said “video dates, phone chats, sexting, online chat rooms and group cam rooms” are a safe alternative to physical contact.
The agency listed several health and safety precautions for those engaging in intimate physical relations with another person — including washing before and after sex, wearing a mask, avoiding kissing and using sexual positions that limit contact.
“Use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact,” the guidelines say.
A screenshot of the candid guidance was widely circulated on Twitter.
Pasquino stood by the health agency’s recommendations.
“When guidelines come out and there’s discussion around glory holes and meeting people online or virtual masturbation or mutual masturbation ... There’s always going to be some jest,” she told CBC News. “This is nothing new to sexual health. We talk about harm reduction and minimizing risk all the time, way before the pandemic ever came. What it’s about is keeping people safe.”
This story was originally published July 22, 2020 7:32 PM.