Say goodbye to the beso-beso and hello to the “Wuhan shake”. The COVID-19 outbreak is changing the way we live, and understandably so. Health officials all over the globe are advising people to stop shaking hands or kissing cheeks, so people are using alternative ways to greet each other — some more creative than others. Here are eight greetings that are less likely to spread germs in the age of the coronavirus:
The elbow bump
Rather than shaking hands, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is encouraging people to bump elbows to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The governor demonstrated it in a video of himself greeting people leaving quarantine at a facility in Omaha. https://t.co/eBxMPZ4odv pic.twitter.com/Fx0A2tJ4aj
— CNN (@CNN) March 4, 2020
Trivia time: The elbow bump has been around since 1969, when it was popularized outside a Hawaiian leprosy camp. When its residents would attend church outside of the settlement, priests would touch elbows with them to avoid infection. This greeting spread among Hawaiian churchgoers in the early ’70s.
Since then, the elbow bump has risen in popularity during pandemics, such as the 2006 avian flu outbreak, the 2014 ebola outbreak, and now, the COVID-19 outbreak.
Also, it’s long been used by the urban youth (as a derivative of the fist bump), so if you do it right, you’ll look in with the cool kids.
The “Wuhan Shake”
People in China found another way to greet since they can’t shake hands.
The Wuhan Shake.
I love how people can adapt and keep a sense of humor about stressful situations. pic.twitter.com/P8MSfOdJ2H
— •*¨*•.¸¸✯*･🍃Ꮙ🍃•*¨*•.¸¸✯*¨ (@V_actually) February 29, 2020
It’s easy to lose your sense of playfulness when there’s a life-threatening pandemic taking over the world, which is why the “Wuhan Shake” is such a breath of fresh air. Takes a little bit of coordination and balance, but it’s sure to leave a smile on your face.
— @SCOOTERCASTER (@ScooterCasterNY) March 4, 2020
The Booty Bump
Avoid hand shake.
Somewhere in Iran.#CoronaVirus
— Angry Hindu (@SansLaVoix) February 25, 2020
If the Wuhan shake is a little too challenging for you, follow the lead of these Iranians and just bump booties.
Direct eye contact
French etiquette expert Philippe Lichtfus says looking directly into another person’s eyes should be a good enough greeting. Just don’t make it awkward.
Don’t want to complicate things too much? Stick to good old waving. It doesn’t make you look childish, it makes you look ~youthful~.
6. Pats on the back
One Australian health minister suggested pats on the back instead of shaking hands to greet each other.
7. The Chinese “gong shou” or Thai “wai”
— Mark George (@MarkDGeorge) March 2, 2020
Billboards in China are advising people to join their hands in the traditional Chinese gesture called the gong shou (a fist in an open palm) to say hello. In Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, people practice the “wai”, where you press your palms together in a prayer-like gesture and bow your head slightly.
According to a UK study, a handshake transfers 10 times more bacteria than a fist bump, which is why NBA stars have been recommended to interact with fans using fists than high-fives. If it’s good enough for your favorite basketball players, it should be good enough for us.
Of course, these alternative greetings won’t curb the spread of diseases unless we practice proper hygiene and due diligence. Practice frequent handwashing (for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, guys!), avoid touching your face with your hands, and use a face mask in crowded places — especially if you’re feeling under the weather.
What are you doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19?