The traditional British greeting of hand shaking may be permanently resigned to history because of Covid-19 according to some prominent Public Health experts. Professor Dame Anne Johnson, Vice President of the Academy of Medical Science yesterday told the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Select Committee: ‘It’s really important to suppress the virus as much as we can. If you’ve got a cold or flu stay home, stay out the way. No shaking of hands, kissing and more of the Japanese approach.’
She told the influential committee that a cultural shift was needed now to prevent future waves of coronavirus, with no handshakes and much less kissing.
Professor Peter Piot, an eminent microbiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, agreed saying: ‘Shaking hands is probably out forever.’ He stressed that individual behaviour needs an immediate change in order to combat coronavirus and the possibility of other epidemics, saying that wearing face masks and social distancing should become the norm
Both experts had been called upon to advise the House of Lords’ Science and Technology select committee yesterday.
This comes after The United Arab Emirates and Qatar have ordered citizens to stop using the traditional ‘nose to nose’ greeting.
France’s Minister of Health has told people to end the nation’s custom of greeting others with kisses.
Dr.Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, tweeted that he was ‘opting for hand on heart instead of handshakes’ as a greeting that allows for social distancing.
However, back in the UK, where handshaking is a deeply embedded tradition, and a habit some find hard to break, notices are being placed in public buildings to remind people of the current health risk of shaking hands.