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CEO Update: Physical Distancing and COVID-19

On Friday 20 March, Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth addressed our LGBTI and PLHIV communities about the importance of physical distancing in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

"Hi, I’m Simon Ruth - CEO of Thorne Harbour health

Over the past week, the advice from health officials has led to further guidelines for physical distancing to minimise the risk of the onward transmission of COVID-19. If we can’t slow the spread of COVID-19, many people are going to die. This virus is spread by droplets from the mouth and close contact - so we need to limit these.

At Thorne Harbour Health, our top priority is the health and wellbeing of our LGBTIQ communities and people living with HIV. The advice for physical distancing presents our communities with challenges as to how we socialise, how we interact, and how we have sex.

Many of you have been able to work from home this week and have already started to limit the time you’re spending around others. At this stage, this is one of the only strategies we have at our disposal to prevent the onward transmission of the virus. As we head into the weekend, we encourage everyone to continue to look after everyone’s wellbeing by limiting their physical contact and proximity to others.

This means:

  • Avoiding crowds.
  • Keeping at least 1.5 metres between you and other people.
  • Avoiding shaking hands, kissing, sharing drinks – anything that could allow you to transmit saliva.
  • If you have the option of staying home, stay home.

This also means limiting and avoiding casual sex at this time.

While COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection, virtually all kinds of sex carry a risk of transmitting it. Sex is the very definition of close contact.

If you go to ThorneHarbour.org  you can find a tip sheet on ways to enjoy sex whilst minimising risk.

In the coming days we will establish a feedback service, where, if you have any ideas about how to minimise risk during sex, we will get an expert opinion on it and update our advice. Keep track of Thorne Harbour Health social media for more.

We acknowledge that social connection and social interaction play an important role in our community’s wellbeing, but at this time, we need to take these guidelines for physical distancing seriously.

It won’t be this way forever.

This may mean connecting more online or over the phone. These guidelines definitely mean putting physical space between ourselves and other people when in a shared space.

And for anyone who is feeling unwell – it is vital that you avoid contact with others. 

If you develop known symptoms such fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath, please phone a medical practitioner to see if you need to be tested.

We all have a role to play in looking after ourselves and those around us. Let’s work together to get through this difficult time and have a great weekend."

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