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Covid affairs – can a secret fling survive the age of contact tracing?


Name: Covid affairs.

Age: A couple of months. Before that they were just called affairs.

Appearance: Clandestine.

Really? Who can manage a clandestine affair when your neighbours are watching from their windows to make sure you don’t go jogging twice? Soon it could get even harder.

How so? Contact tracing. In Belgium, for example, there are plans for 2,000 investigators to trace all the past contacts of those testing positive for coronavirus. That would include any extramarital assignations.

I guess that could lead to an awkward home quarantine. That’s why the Belgian authorities have promised to keep such information confidential. “If, after talking to the patient, we call all contacts to inform them that there has been an infection in their environment, we will never tell them who the infected person is or where they met that person,” Dirk Wildemeersch, the head of the contact tracers team, told the Het Laatste Nieuws.

How very sporting. Meanwhile, in France, where affairs are normally tolerated but lockdown rules are strict, people are increasingly resorting to télésexualité.

What does that mean? It means they are carrying on carrying on, online. There has been a big rise in the use of dating apps specialising in illicit encounters and sites hosting virtual orgies.

What kind of disgusting sites are those, and where can I find them? You could probably just use Zoom although this is against its user policies. Don’t tell them I sent you.

Anyway, these sound like very innovative solutions to some very continental problems. Covid affairs are not confined to the continent. British epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson has just stepped down from his post on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) over what he called an “error of judgment”.

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What did he do? He twice allowed his lover to cross London to visit him at home, contravening the physical distancing rules he was instrumental in developing.

Did he offer any excuse for taking such a risk, besides really, really wanting to? He said he had already had coronavirus and considered himself immune.

Isn’t it weird that it’s suddenly considered completely immoral to sneak out of your house to have sex with a person who isn’t your partner? To be honest, I think that was always sort of frowned upon.

And yet it’s OK to drive to B&Q for some weedkiller. That has always been OK.

Do say: “You’re having an affair? Thank God. I thought you’d been jogging again.”

Don’t say: “Colin, I think you may have opened the wrong Zoom window – this is the Wednesday marketing team meeting.”



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