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Hugs During the Pandemic

By Mehr Sohal


We all love hugs. But we have all also been devoid of hugs for a fairly long time due to the pesky pandemic that sauntered into our lives. As mentioned in the above 'New York Times' article, we as human beings don't just like hugs; we need them. Especially in the stressful situation we're living in, physical affection can calm our sympathetic nervous system, and make us feel loved and safe.

Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist, believes that the "risk of exposure during a brief hug can be surprisingly low — even if you hugged a person who didn’t know they were infected and happened to cough." Reason being, we are still unsure of the dose of exposure of the COVID-19 virus required for high virulence (but estimates are 200 to 1,000 copies of the virus).

Therefore, if you are absolutely desperate and dying for a hug, Linsey Marr believes it is possible; provided some precautions are taken:

Don't cough or talk while hugging, and try do it outdoors

Avoid hugging face-to-face, or cheek to cheek...

But rather, facing opposite directions

Don't cry– even if you have tears of happiness

Back away quickly from the hug, and wash your hands after

Kiss your loved one on the back of their head

Let children hug you around the knees/waist

Wear a mask!

Aim for a brief 10 second hug; and if possible, hold your breath

To reiterate what Dr. Marr said, the risk of infection by a quick hug is low not zero. And hence, one should be wise about who they choose to hug, and the precautions they will take. While the above guidelines appear to be very tedious, they do give us the choice and option for much-wanted physical affection in these trying times. Epidemiologist, Julia Marcus, identified that “There’s a real challenge right now for older people who worry that they won’t be able to touch or connect with family for the rest of their lives.”

I hope reading this article and the New York Times one will give you more clarity on whether or not you should hug your grandparent, friend, and loved one amongst others.

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