Pat on back for keeping novel virus at distance
IF YOU don’t have to travel, don’t. This is just one of the bits of advice on how to deal with the coronavirus, even for those living far from the outbreaks.
But there are many other tips on simple things the public can do to avoid catching or spreading the virus, Covid-19.
France’s director-general of health, Jérôme Salomon, advised people to greet each other at a distance rather than by shaking hands or kissing as is the custom in the country.
Its Health Minister Olivier Véran stressed the need for people to wash their hands regularly with soap or special hand sanitiser containing alcohol.
Disposable tissues should be used and then thrown away immediately after use.
Salomon reminded the public that wearing face masks when out was not an answer to avoiding catching the virus because they can’t be worn permanently and people were only likely to catch the virus if they spent prolonged and close contact with an infected person.
Rather, masks should be worn by people who have symptoms of the virus or by health and other professionals dealing directly with the public.
Health officials in many countries are also advising against non-essential travel.
“Non-essential trips should be delayed especially those to outside the EU,” Salomon said.
France has taken the step of banning large-scale indoor events. That meant that “gatherings of more than 5 000 people” in enclosed areas as well as some external events would be scrapped until further notice.
Among the events cancelled was the Paris half-marathon and the final day of the Nice carnival.
Italy and Switzerland were among the countries to urge citizens to refrain from kissing on the cheek and hugging acquaintances in greeting.
The Italian government issued new guidelines to stop the virus from spreading, which included urging people aged over 75 to stay at home.
The official advice states that people should avoid crowded places and keep “at least a metre” away from anyone else at all times.
Football matches and other sporting events in Italy this month will be held behind closed doors.
In other countries too social interaction was changing as a result of the novel virus.
Australians have been urged by their health minister to give a pat on the back, rather than a handshake.
Also, the outbreak of the virus could hit one of Spain’s most cherished traditions, the kissing of sculptures of the Virgin Mary in the week leading up to Easter.
In Poland, the faithful were allowed to take “spiritual communion” instead of consuming the communal bread – or it can be taken in the hands rather than the mouth.
The faithful have also been asked not to dip their hands in holy water when going in and out of the church, and instead make the sign of the cross.
And, in Iran, a video has gone viral showing three friends meeting, hands in their pockets, with two of them wearing masks, tapping their feet against each other as a greeting.
| STAFF REPORTER