People all over are changing habits to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus and prevent it from spreading.

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, some have abandoned the most common form of greeting: the handshake.

People are also abstaining from giving pecks on the cheek, hugs and high-fives as they try to minimise the the risk of contracting it and prevent it from spreading.


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Here’s how the virus, which has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, has changed behaviour around the world:


In Beijing, billboards tell people to join their hands together when greeting others, instead of shaking hands. Public announcements suggest using a traditional Chinese gesture called the gong shou – a fist in the opposite palm – to say hello.


Newspapers advise that kissing on the cheek,  a common way of greeting in the country is to be avoided. Likewise with shaking hands at work. 

Etiquette expert Philippe Lichtfus says just looking into a person’s eyes directly is sufficient.


Brazil’s health ministry recommends against sharing metal straws to consume the caffeine-rich South American drink known as chimarrao.

Meanwhile, any form of kissing is out, it says.


Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer amiably declined to shake Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand on Monday. Merkel laughed before taking a seat.


The outbreak could affect one of Spain’s most beloved 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.


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.


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.


The footshake is the new handshake.

In Iran, where 66 people have been killed by the virus, a video has gone viral showing three friends meeting – hands in their pockets – tapping their feet against each other as a greeting.

How to meet and greet in the age of the #Coronavirius – Made in Iran.

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 Zealand

The country has banned the Maori greeting known as the hongi in which two people press their noses together.

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


New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard suggested pats on the back instead of shaking hands.

“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.

“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, Qatar

The United Arab Emirates and Qatar are advising citizens to stop the traditional “nose-to-nose” greeting.

The UAE also said people should greet each other “by waving only”, it said.


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.

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

The Thai “wai” is one of the recommended alternatives to handshake per National University of Singapore School of Medicine #Covid19

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