Is It Safe to Hug a Relative You Haven't Been Quarantining With?

May 13, 2020

If you’re missing human touch during self-isolation, you’re not alone.

While people continue to social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, some may be wondering when society can hug again.

Can you hug a family member if you’ve been quarantining for the last couple of weeks?

ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton shared that the answer can be complicated. Ashton said it could be socially, psychologically, and emotionally hard for people when they see a relative and not be able to hug them.

“This is a really, really difficult and challenging issue,” Ashton said.

Dr. Ashton also noted that if you are not quarantining with family members and you see them, whether or not to kiss or hug them depends on a lot of things.

Criteria to take into consideration before hugging include a person's age, if they have any pre-existing conditions, and how many other people everyone has had contact with.

She shared an example and said if someone who has strictly self-quarantined for some time and has had zero contact with the outside world, that could reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 through hugging. But Ashton also warned that very few people have actually had zero contact with the outside world.

She also stressed that while experts estimate the incubation period for the virus to be 14 days, nothing is certain.

Ashton also said that since a large percentage of people with COVID-19 show no symptoms, you can't go by outward symptoms.

If you want to be cautious, Ashton said the answer is people should not hug relatives during the pandemic.

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