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Time to kiss goodbye to unsafe habits

China Daily | Updated: 2020-03-06 10:09
Guests wear protective face masks as they stand inside the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel, which is under lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak in Adeje, in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, March 5, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS-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 novel coronavirus and prevent it from spreading any further.


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.


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.


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.


Is the footshake the new handshake?

In Iran, 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.


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."

United States

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.


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