People are being urged to stop shaking hands because of coronavirus - here’s what to do instead

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 11:39 am
Updated Thursday, 5th March 2020, 11:40 am

As the global coronavirus outbreak spreads, people are becoming increasingly concerned with how they greet each other.

Shaking hands is one of the world’s most common ways of welcoming someone.

The traditional greeting is considered so important in Western cultures, that people are often judged on their shaking technique - after all, there’s nothing worse than clasping a so-called ‘dead fish’.

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Coronavirus risk

But a growing movement on social media is urging people to stop shaking hands, and seek out alternative greetings, as medical experts confirm that coronavirus can be spread through close personal contact.

And the handshake is not the only greeting being discouraged. In France, officials have warned the public to avoid kissing each other on the cheek - a common way of showing affection on the continent - to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

So what are the alternatives to handshakes?

Elbow bump

This simple greeting involves bending your arm and extending your elbow out towards someone else’s. The two elbows then tap lightly (similar to a ‘fist bump’) and the greeting is complete.

The elbow bump gained popularity in 2006, during an outbreak of avian flu, and was promoted by health officials during the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

A video of Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts light-heartedly bumping elbows with staff has renewed interest in the greeting.

‘Wuhan’ shake

Also known as the ‘footshake’ this novel introduction has become popular in the Chinese city of Wuhan - the source of the global coronavirus outbreak - as well as in cities across Iran.

To avoid making contact with their hands, people have been filmed holding out their right feet to one another. Once their shoes are in contact, they lightly shake them up and down - as you would in a handshake.

Videos of the greeting have gone viral on social media, with many praising the way people in heavily impacted regions are using the ‘Wuhan shake’ to stay positive and respectful to each other.

Namaste

There is nothing new about Namaste - the traditional Indian greeting could be at least 5,000 years old - and is very common across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

But the practice is now being hailed as a way to fight the spread of coronavirus because it does not involve bodily contact.

To perform the Namaste greeting - which means “I bow to the divine in you” in Hindi - just follow these steps:

Put your hands together so that your palms are touchingKeep your fingers pointing upwardsHold your thumbs in close to your chestSmile at the person you are greeting, and bow slightly

Bum bump

Keeping morale high during a disease outbreak can be hard, but some people in Iran have developed a tongue-in-cheek greeting - the bum bump - to help do just that.

To greet someone this way, both parties need to turn away from each other, and lightly bump their rear ends together. It requires slightly more coordination than the other techniques, but videos of the greeting have been well-received on social media.