#Hugging less risky than handshaking as coronavirus lockdown relaxes: virologist

#Hugging less risky than handshaking as coronavirus lockdown relaxes: virologist

June 9, 2020 | 12:13pm | Updated June 9, 2020 | 12:15pm

Don’t want the bug? Give a hug.

A full-body squeeze is safer than shaking hands when it comes to avoiding the deadly embrace of the coronavirus, according to Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst. His suggestion comes with Belgium announcing Monday that its citizens may see 10 other people per week as the country relaxes its nationwide lockdown, reports the Brussels Times. 

“People are allowed to hold each other,” says the epidemiologist at the Rega Institute for Medical Research, who recognizes quarantiners’ need to display affection as they emerge from their months-long isolation. However, Dr. Van Ranst advises against “difficult handshakes,” which allow hands to “come into contact with each other and with the environment” and increase “the chance of the spread.”

“Shaking hands at the conference table — you can no longer do that anymore,” the KU Leuven University researcher says of old-school skin-to-skin salutations.

Dr. Van Ranst’s assessment could come as a relief to those struggling with how to politely decline clasping hands amid COVID-19, but don’t want to resort to “foot shakes” or other odd interim physical salutations.

But keep in mind, he adds, that this is not a prescription to go on an office hugging spree. “Keep the hug for the people you have an affinity with,” says Dr. Van Ranst, cheekily adding that people probably haven’t missed the “obligatory handshake.”

And US Surgeon General Jerome Adams claims that the “elbow bump” remains the safest way to greet someone, although the WHO argues against the gesture as it puts its practitioners within 3 feet of each other.

Contact precautions also apply to the boudoir, where Swiss sex workers maintain that “doggy style” and “reverse cowgirl” positions can help mitigate the spread of disease for those making love in the time of corona.


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