By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus-related medical questions. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, email her or message her on Facebook or Twitter.

Dr. Mallika is offering her best advice, but as always consult your personal doctor before making any decisions about your personal health.

When it comes to coronavirus testing, they always show that long swab that seems to be pushed into the brain and appears very uncomfortable. Why is this the standard method? – Harold

It’s called a nasopharyngeal swab and it doesn’t go into the brain but it does pass to the back of the nose to collect secretions and it is uncomfortable. I’ve learned inserting it very slowly can help minimize the discomfort, but no doubt, it’s not fun. Researchers are currently studying whether simply providing a saliva sample could be used to detect the virus. It would be much less invasive, patients could do it themselves, and it would reduce the risk to the healthcare providers collecting the samples.

We all wear facemasks at my job but sometimes I have to be closer than six feet with clients for a few short minutes. Am I putting them at risk? – Nancy

It’s unlikely that you’re going to pass on the virus if everyone is wearing masks and you’re closer than six feet for just a few minutes. If it extends beyond 10-15 mins, that could be a problem. But whenever you can, even if you’re wearing a mask, try to keep as much distance as you can from others.

Kathy asks “Is it safe to get a routine GYN exam?” and Dave asks “Should he get a routine eye exam and glaucoma check?”

This is the time to get routine check-ups, get your kids vaccinated, get routine screening tests like mammograms done. It is generally safe to go to medical facilities for routine care. If you’re high risk, call your provider to make sure but our concern is that once the fall arrives, we’ll be dealing with the coronavirus and the flu which may restrict our movements again.

We are wondering when we can play cards or board games with friends. – Martha

I still wouldn’t have other people inside your home to socialize. But even you play a board game or play cards outside, you have to sit pretty close, usually closer than six feet, and you have to touch the same cards or board pieces. Maybe you can play croquet. Or there are some fun apps that allow you to play group games on your phone while socially distancing, like trivia and even some drawing games.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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