News Your coronavirus questions answered: What you can and can’t do in the era of social distancing
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Your coronavirus questions answered: What you can and can’t do in the era of social distancing

Your coronavirus questions answered. Photo: TND
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As part of our responsibility to get you the information you need to know when you need it, we’ve been taking your coronavirus questions to the experts.

Last week, they answered questions about how the virus works, how long this will all last, and how you can stay healthy. 

This is a constantly changing situation and answers are current as of time of publishing.

Please check www.health.gov.au for the latest.

Professor Nikolai Petrovsky from the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University is answering your questions about how to stay healthy and virus free.

Over to him.

How long would the virus last on fruit and vegetables handled by many? How can you wash them properly?

Virus can live for several hours and in extreme cases up to several days on surfaces including potentially on fruit and vegetables.

Not a lot of research has gone into this, but washing under water for several minutes should be sufficient in most cases.

Can I drive five kilometres down the road to go fishing? It’s an isolated spot that I normally go to.

If you are required by law to self-isolate it is mandatory to stay at home except for urgent matters, such as to seek medical attention.

If you aren’t required to self-isolate you should be adhering to social distancing and avoid physical contact.

If no one else is around, it should be OK.

Should I cancel the cleaners who clean my house weekly?

If you don’t have contact with them, stay in a different room while they are cleaning, and keep a distance of at least two metres from them at all times, it should be OK.

Make sure they know to take appropriate precautions afterwards, like hand washing.

How can I shop without touching produce?

You can wear gloves.

Can we hug our parents and kids though we are not quarantined?

This may not be safe as you may be shedding virus even if you have no symptoms. Wouldn’t you feel guilty if you infected them?

Best where possible to avoid close personal contact till this outbreak is over.

Can I go out for a big walk around Albert Park Lake daily for some exercise?

Yes, providing you have no symptoms and are not required by law to self-isolate or be in quarantine.

Is it still OK to go bike riding and motorcycle riding if it’s only myself and maybe one other? Even if we have social distancing?

Yes, providing you have no symptoms and are not required by law to self-isolate or be in quarantine.

Should we be social distancing at home and among our family … should we be sleeping in separate rooms? 

In China, there was an extremely high rate of infections being transmitted within whole families if one became infected.

This is most likely via frequently contacting the same surfaces, such as door handles and eating utensils.

There is no evidence that sleeping in the same bed increases this risk.

That said, if one partner is clearly infected then it may be wise to sleep in different beds until they are recovered.

Can children have play dates through this pandemic?

Single-person contacts e.g. play dates are a much lower risk than large groups e.g. daycare facilities, but there is still some risk.

Certainly, a no-no if either of the children have any symptoms.

Should I be working in a bank if I’m pregnant?

Unlike swine flu where pregnant women had a much higher risk, this has not been seen with COVID-19.

Nevertheless, direct customer-facing positions confer significant risk of exposure and this would need to be borne in mind. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision.

Can our children come home for Easter lunch?

If you are elderly this is probably not a good idea.

Can I visit my parents if I sit in the backyard and talk to them through the screen door of their conservatory? We would be three metres apart. 

Yes, that should be fine if you are at least two metres away and don’t touch things they are likely to touch afterwards, such as doorknobs.

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