Corona-Virus: What Sexworkers* (and Everyone Else) Should Be Aware of Now

Last update: 14.03.

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1) Information for  Sexworkers

Just like employees in the care or medical sector, sex workers tend to be exposed to a higher risk of infection through close contact with clients. Our industry is  clearly noticing the effects – on the one hand, an above-average number of appointments are being cancelled by clients, and on the other hand, many colleagues are wondering whether and how they can continue working now.

A. What sex workers should be aware of at work

  • Do not accept customers with a cold, cough and other cold symptoms. If you notice that a customer has symptoms, don´t engage in sexwork with him or her.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap for at least 30 seconds, and do it more often than usual. Especially if you come to your workplace from outside, and between appointments.
  • Make sure that every guest first washes his or her hands and face thoroughly with soap. The probability of getting infected with viruses from others on unwashed hands is currently still higher than that the customers themselves might have the virus.
  • (Working in clubs/ studios etc.) Refrain from greeting friends and colleagues with kisses or hugs.
  • (Working in clubs / studios etc.) Do not share dishes or cutlery with others, wash them thoroughly with soap in between.

B. Risk Assessment for Sex Workers

Doing sex work is currently strongly advised against, if:

  • you have a fever, cough, cold or other cold symptoms
  • a disease with the corona virus has occurred in your personal environment
  • you have been in a country or region where many people have contracted the corona virus in the last 14 days.

Doing sex work is currently advised against if:

  • you yourself have a chronic illness
  • you are over 55 years old
  • you live with people over 50
  • you live with people who suffer from chronic diseases

C. Alternative earning opportunities

Those who, as a part-time or full-time sex worker*, are able to reduce or completely avoid body/sex contact for a while, may consider alternative options within the industry.

Webcamming, phone and direct chats as well as the sale of adult content (photos, videos) on platforms, where no physical contact takes place, are obvious choices.

An exemplary selection of platforms are: adultwork, streamate, Big7, my dirty hobby, onlymevip, chaturbate, sexpanther or adulttime.

D. Loss of earnings / emergency funds

This section is under construction.

It has not yet been sufficiently clarified whether and how the German state or private companies can support or establish support systems or emergency funds to counter the loss of earnings for sex workers. It is also not yet clear, whether and how financial support for undeclared sex workers or particularly vulnerable groups, e.g. with no residence status, can be provided.

According to the law for the prevention and control of infectious diseases, not only employees, but also the self-employed and freelancers are in general entitled to compensation for loss of earnings – however, this  only applies in the case of a state-ordered measure and probably only for those in possession of a tax number. (link to German article).

E. Useful Downloads

This section is under construction.

We will provide you as soon as possible with some documents for download, printing and distribution.

– Checklist for sex workers in several languages
– Checklist for brothel owners etc.
– Infosheet for clients

3) Current information

If you can read German, you can find the daily updated information – as well as all currently available answers to questions about the coronavirus and how to deal with it – on these official sites: Government | www.infektionsschutz.de. There are english versions of all articles from the Robert Koch Institute. The current basis for recommendations is the WHO report. In this (german) podcast Christian Drosten, Head of Virology at the Charité hospital in Berlin, provides daily updates on new developments.

A. Risk Assessment in Germany

The overall risk to public health is currently estimated to be “moderate”, with the exception of particularly affected areas. In the long term, the corona virus – like the already known flu – will occur worldwide, and the individual risk of falling seriously ill is not high. However, we now know that infection with the new virus poses a higher risk for the elderly and people with chronic illnesses, and more often leads to severe disease progression in these groups.

B. Case Numbers

At present, the number of confirmed infections is 3.062 people. In Germany there have been 5 confirmed deaths so far. Daily updated case numbers worldwide.

C. Difference to influenza and other viruses

  • In contrast to the seasonal influenza viruses, there is no basic immunity to the new corona virus in the population.
  • A specific therapy or vaccination directed against the corona virus is not yet available.

The symptoms of coronavirus differ from a cold/flu in that coronavirus is often accompanied by fever and dry cough, but rarely by a dripping nose. The coronavirus is more contagious than influenza/flu – but since it is currently less common, the probability of getting infected with the coronavirus is still lower in comparison. Here you can see the currently assumed infectivity of the coronavirus compared to other known viruses.

D. Recommendations

As in other countries, we in Germany are currently trying to delay the spread of the virus with all our strength and a concerted effort from society. On the one hand, this is intended to protect people to whom the corona virus can be particularly harmful. On the other hand, it is essential to avoid overloading the health system as long as possible. There is no need for panic-mongering, but the situation is serious.

The current recommendation of experts* and the German Federal Government for everyone: The reduction of NON-NECESSARY social contacts and travel activities, with the aim of preventing infections in the private, professional and public sectors.

The time gained will be used to develop protective measures for particularly vulnerable groups, to increase treatment capacities and to develop antiviral drugs and vaccines.

  • Ways to reduce social contact. At present, this can mean going shopping only every two weeks instead of every week, avoiding peak hours. Events and festivities from all sectors are currently being cancelled throughout the country. When meeting with friends, it is preferable to meet outdoors or at home, rather than in a café or bar. Children should no longer be brought to grandma and grandpa’s house – for the protection of the elderly. Crowds of people and places where there is little distance between people – for example public transport or the waiting room in the doctor’s surgery – should be avoided. Train or plane journeys should be minimized if possible. Many companies are currently establishing and using home office.
  • Especially now it is important to be very careful about routine hygiene. Also because of the current wave of flu, it is important to practice good hand hygiene, cough and sneeze properly and to avoid close contact. The main transmission route of the viruses is happening via mucous membranes (mouth, nose, eyes) or or indirectly via hands, which are then brought into contact with the mucous membranes. It helps to regularly wash your hands/use disinfectants and to avoid touching your own face. The most important tips for hygiene can be found at the website of infektionschutz.de (here is a direct download of information graphic in English).

E. Data on Course of Disease and Risk

Apparently, the virus behaves differently from influenza and can cause serious illness in people with certain conditions. According to the data from China, the highest risk of serious illness is for people over 60 and people with underlying diseases (for example, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and diseases of the respiratory system, liver and kidney, and cancer).

F. Status Quo on Research

Many questions still need discussion, but intensive work is being done to answer them. The danger of an infection draws its threat mainly from the fact that there is no immunity in our species against it yet. A specific therapy directed against the coronavirus is not yet available. The severity of the new respiratory disease cannot be assessed at present because not enough data are available. No vaccine is available yet, but international research – including that of the EU Health Security Committee, the G7 Global Health Security Initiative and CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) – is currently coordinating the development of a vaccine.