Handshake? No thanks: Coronavirus changes global habits - International | NTV

Handshake? No thanks: Coronavirus changes global habits

Tuesday March 3, 2020


Say no to a handshake, refuse every peck on the cheek and definitely avoid hugging. Instead, try a direct gaze, or maybe a hand gesture.

Around the world people are changing their habits at work, home and in worship to reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus and prevent it from spreading any further.

AFP looks at changes in behaviour due to the coronavirus, which has killed more than 3,000 worldwide.


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.


In Uganda, the common forms of greeting which include hugs and handshakes have since been replaced by waving or elbow greeting.

This is all in a bid to fight the possible spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The new wave of greeting has of late been supported by the country's President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.


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.


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.


In a sign of the times, Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer rebuffed Chancellor Angela Merkel's attempt to shake hands with him on Monday, smiling and keeping both his hands to himself.

They both laughed and Merkel threw her hand up in the air before taking a seat.


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.