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Husbands and wives keep their distance at home

The risk of infection is just too great, so they are getting creative
Mar 06,2020
Social distancing, which is being recommended as a way of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, has become something of a high art in Korea. Maintaining a two-meter (6.56-feet) gap between you and others on the street is only the beginning.

Residents of Korea are starting to keep their distance at home.

People who spend a lot of time outside, in offices or traveling on public transportation, have a higher chance of getting infected, so they minimize close interaction with family members as much as possible to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

As individuals with the disease can be asymptomatic, rules of engagement are maintained even by the healthy.

A woman surnamed Hong, a 36-year-old telecommuter, and her husband live together in Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul, but they stay in separate rooms due to concerns about coronavirus infections. She shares a bedroom with her 2-year-old child, while her husband, who works outside home, sleeps in his study next to the front door. Even at home, the husband puts his mask on when he is with other family members.

“I feel sorry for my husband, but since he has a higher chance of getting the new coronavirus infection outside, I think this is the best way to prevent possible secondary infection,” she said.

A man surnamed Park, who lives in Deungchon-dong, western Seoul, is also being extra careful. As soon as he arrives home from work, he sprays disinfectant on his clothes and goes straight to the bathroom to take a shower. Only then can he meet his 4-year-old and 2-year-old children.

“Me and my wife are being as careful as possible,” he said, “because there are cases where children got infected from their family members.”

An 8-year-old child in Yongin, Gyeonggi, was confirmed as infected the day after her parents tested positive for the coronavirus, and a 45-day-old baby in Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang, was confirmed as infected with his mother last Saturday, two days after his father tested positive.

Postings on the Mom Naver Cafe online community share quarantine tips for women trying to stay safe from possibly infected husbands.

“I pack lunch every morning for my husband so that he doesn’t have to eat with others,” a member of Naver Mom Cafe said.

“I’m nervous because my husband is a salesman who has contact with others all the time. I’m thinking whether I should stay at my parents’ place with my child,” another said.

Many are interested in home disinfection services to protect their families from the new coronavirus.

“I’m looking into some companies that can sterilize my house,” said a 37-year-old woman who lives in Imun-dong, eastern Seoul.

Miso is offering a home cleaning service to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. The service includes sanitizing inside homes as well as the front door and the elevator.

Personal hygiene habits are important to minimize infection in the family, but experts say there is no need to go overboard.

“I think it is excessive to keep distance from family members,” Jeon Byung-yul, a former director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said. “Even if you have many external activities, there is no risk of infection if you put alcohol disinfectants at your front door, disinfect your clothes and wash your hands as soon as you return home,” he added.

BY JANG JOO-YOUNG [kim.yeonah@joongang.co.kr]