From namaste to foot shaking: Here are 5 alternatives to the handshake

The coronavirus has now spread to all continents save Antarctica, killing over 4,500 people and infected more than 124,000 people across 107 countries and territories.

Various countries have taken a slew of steps, from shutting their borders to cancelling visas. With the world health organisation discouraging physical contact with affected people, human interaction has become increasingly difficult.

According to the WHO, the infection spread can be curtailed by, amongst other things, regularly washing your hands and covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. It is also recommended that people avoid close contact with symptomatic individuals.

But the world must be run, and world leaders and politicians cannot escape encounters with each other. They have thus been forced to find several creative workarounds.

From knocking elbows to taking a cue from Spock, there are several new greetings for the coronavirus era.

1. Taking a cue from India's Namaste

While India has been utilising the folded-hand-greeting that is the Namaste, is hasn't always been the French way of saying hello. But with handshakes, hugs and air kisses being considered a bad idea, French President Emmanuel Macron has now chosen to greet his counterparts with folded hands. This, said the Ambassador of France to India, Emmanuel Lenain, was a "graceful gesture that he has retained from his India visit in 2018".

Perhaps it is time Indian leaders took a cue from him?

Similarly, Prince Charles too has taken to greeting people with a namaste.

2. Live long and prosper

With thousands dying from the coronavirus,this greeting is perhaps one of the most encouraging on our list. According to a CNN report, the attending physician at a recent closed-door meeting of the House Democratic caucus in the US suggested that people could employ alternatives to greetings that require physical contact. We're not certain whether he was joking when he suggested that officials make use of the Vulcan salute from Star Trek, but we're certainly on board with the idea.

From namaste to foot shaking: Here are 5 alternatives to the handshake

3. Elbow bumps

We had handshakes and we had fist bumps. Now, political leaders have been spotted greeting each other with elbow bumps. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was spotted giving Dutch Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins an elbow greeting during the Question Time in the Lower House in The Hague, The Netherlands on Tuesday.

The trend appears to have picked up since then.

We say: aim carefully and coordinate.

From namaste to foot shaking: Here are 5 alternatives to the handshake
Photo: AFP

However, elbow bumps do involve close proximity, and not everyone is a fan.

As Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus the Director-General of the World Health Organization wrote on Twitter, "When greeting people, best to avoid elbow bumps because they put you within 1 meter of the other person. I like to put my hand on my heart when I greet people these days."

4. The foot-shake

If you have to keep your hands to yourself, perhaps stretching out another limb is the best alternative. People have begun calling it the Wuhan Shake, based on its purported place of origin.

More recently, Tanzania's President, John Magufuli was spotted exchanging a foot greeting with opposition politician Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad. The photo was shared by the country's State House.

From namaste to foot shaking: Here are 5 alternatives to the handshake
Photo: State House of Tanzania

5. The wave

Nothing says hello from a distance like a simple wave. And while this particular greeting has been around for aeons, in post-coronavirus times, Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to be leading the way. Sporting a mask, the leader was seen waving to a coronavirus patient and medical staff via a video link at the Huoshenshan hospital in Wuhan.

The virus incidentally originated in the same province.

Xi Jinping waves to a coronavirus patient and medical staff via a video link at the Huoshenshan hospital in Wuhan on March 10, 2020
Xi Jinping waves to a coronavirus patient and medical staff via a video link at the Huoshenshan hospital in Wuhan on March 10, 2020
Photo: AFP

With so many options before us, perhaps it is now time for a change. The next time you feel the urge to enthusiastically pump someone's hand in greeting or envelop them in a bear hug, take a cue from these world leaders.

After all, you wouldn't want to end up in a situation like the one Angela Merkel found herself in recently.

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