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No handshakes or hugs. Coronavirus is also changing the way we greet each other

Updated on:4 March 2020, 18:33pm IST
Who would have thought that a virus can impact greeting habits globally? But it is doing so and we think keeping distance is mandatory to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Team Health Shots
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Handshakes? No please! Thanks to Coronavirus, gone are those days when we all used to shake hands to greet one another. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Coronavirus is becoming an apocalypse as every now and then we are hearing some or the other news around it. Just yesterday, a wave of panic has spread when fewer more cases are recorded in India. 

But you know what is weird is that this virus is not just affecting our health but globally, it is also changing the way we greet one another. 

It has been reported that the world over people are maintaining distance and avoiding direct contact with others to stay safe from this virus

No handshakes, no hugs, no peck on the cheek, no sharing food – every possible habit of meeting and greeting has taken a back seat.      

And this is what people are doing as an alternate so that they don’t look that rude.

China is adopting their own version of namaste
In Beijing, the capital of the country where the outbreak began, red hoardings tell people not to shake hands but to join their own hands together in a sign of greeting.

Loudspeakers tell people to make the traditional gong shou gesture — a fist in the opposite palm — to say hello.

novel coronavirus
With the fear of catching coronavirus , close interactions have become a strict no-go zone . Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

For France adoption of handshakes instead of kissing is a new development
Newspapers have been filled with advice on how to replace kissing on the cheek — an everyday greeting in France, even between people who have only just met — and handshaking, a common formality at work.

Etiquette expert Philippe Lichtfus, who has been widely cited in the media, says handshakes are a relatively recent development that began in the Middle Ages.

He says simply looking into a person’s eyes can suffice as a greeting.

Brazillian government is also saying no to kissing
Brazil’s health ministry has recommended that citizens not share metal straws used to consume the caffeine-rich South American drink mate, also known as chimarrao.

Meanwhile a kiss – even if not on the mouth – is totally advised against as a greeting to protect everyone from COVID-19

A tradition of sculpture kissing in Spain is also adversely affected
The outbreak could hit one of Spain’s most cherished traditions – the kissing of sculptures of the Virgin Mary in the week leading up to Easter.

With just a month to go before the week starts, the ritual could be banned. “It is one of the measures that is on the table,” said national health official Fernando Simon.

During the holy week, the faithful queue up to kiss the hands or feet of sculptures of Mary and the saints, seeking their protection.

In Romania, this time only flowers will do the greeting
Romania’s Martisor festival marks the beginning of spring when talismanic strings and flowers are handed out, often from men to women.

But the government has passed on a message to people urging them to hand over the flowers and talismans without the accompanying kiss. “Let’s give the flowers but not the kiss,” said Nelu Tataru, state secretary at the health ministry.

No dipping hands in holy water has been advised in Poland to stay safe
In Poland, one of Europe’s most Catholic countries, the faithful are allowed to take “spiritual communion” instead of consuming the communal bread – or it can be taken in the hands rather than the mouth.

The faithful have also been asked not to dip their hands in holy water when going in and out of the church and instead make the sign of the cross.

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Footshake is the new handshake in Iran
In Iran, where 66 people have been killed by the virus, a video has gone viral showing three friends meeting – hands in their pockets, with two of them wearing masks – tapping their feet against each other as a greeting.

A similar video in Lebanon shows singer Ragheb Alama and comedian Michel Abou Sleiman tapping their feet against each other while making kissing noises with their mouths.

No more nose tugging in New Zealand
Some educational institutions in New Zealand have temporarily abandoned the Maori greeting known as the hongi – which involves two people pressing their noses together.

Wellington polytechnic WelTec said that instead of staff greeting new students with a hongi, its welcome ceremony would instead include a N-95 mask and  waiata, or Maori song. 

coronavirus update
New Zealand ‘s nose tugging tradition is now replaced with preventative masks and waiata songs. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

A pat on the back is the way Australia going to greet the world now
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard urged Australians to kiss with caution and suggested a pat on the back instead of a handshake.

“It’s a very Australian thing to put your hand out to shake hands, for example. I would be suggesting to the community… it’s time that Aussies actually gave each other a pat on the back for the time being — no handshaking,” he said.

“There are other things that can be done — I’m not going to say don’t kiss, but certainly you could be exercising a degree of care and caution with who you choose to kiss.”

UAE is going to wave at each other from now on
The United Arab Emirates, as well as Qatar, are advising citizens to stop the traditional “nose to nose” greeting.

The UAE also said that people shouldn’t shake hands or kiss. Greet each other “by waving only”, it said.

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US is trying every way possible to stay away from this virus
NBA stars have been given a series of recommendations including that players interacting with fans should bump fists rather than high-five and avoid taking items such as pens, balls, and jerseys to autograph, ESPN reported.

Some players have already taken steps to limit their exposure to the virus. Portland Trail Blazers star C.J. McCollum said he was no longer signing autographs because of the outbreak.

“Make sure y’all washing y’all hands with soap for 20 or more seconds & covering ya mouths when you cough,” McCollum wrote on Twitter.

So, you see how the world is avoiding direct contact by using different versions of greetings. Which one do you like the most? If you have any other quirky greeting ideas then feel free to share it with us in the comment section below.  

With inputs from AFP

2 Comments

  1. In fact, many other diseases are communicated in exactly the same way, not just coronavirus! So perhaps we should adopt non-tactile forms of greeting permanently throughout the world from now on!

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We are a varied group of Health Shots writers, bringing you the healthiest scoop on wellness in town.