Coronavirus: Hugging less risky than handshakes, warns virologist

The coronavirus emerging from the surface of cells, green, from the US National Institutes of Health. (File photo: AP)

A full-body hug is a safer way to make contact with someone else than a handshake while trying to avoid contracting coronavirus, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst told US-based newspaper New York Post on Tuesday.

Global coronavirus lockdowns are beginning to ease, with authorities slowly walking back on measures meant to combat the spread of the deadly virus. While practicing adequate social distancing is still recommended, Van Ranst said that if people are going to touch each other, hugging is better than a normal handshake.

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“People are allowed to hold each other,” Van Ranst, an epidemiologist at the Rega Institute for Medical Research, told the New York Post.

Handshakes, however, are not recommended as it allows hands to “come into contact with each other and with the environment,” increasing “the chance of the spread,” he said, the New York Post reported.

Health authorities have already warned citizens against unnecessary touching to limit the spread of the virus.

In March, the UAE advised residents that they should “avoid direct contact with others, in particular cheek and nose greetings.”

Van Ranst noted that hugs should only be kept for “people you have an affinity with,” rather than a general greeting, the Post reported.

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Last Update: Thursday, 11 June 2020 KSA 15:36 - GMT 12:36
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