Kissing, greeting and hugging … which are the most risky?

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A new way of greeting has been launched in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus first appeared, to prevent the spread of the virus. In this kind of greeting called “Wuhan Shake”, instead of shaking hands, the feet touch and greet each other. Later, other countries developed their own way of greeting each other. Some preferred to greet each other by touching their feet, as in Wuhan, some cupping their fists, and others rubbing their elbows with the Boris Johnson trend.

Now we all want to hug, kiss and smell our loved ones, but we know that is still not very safe.

From May 17, the British were officially allowed to hug and touch. After more than a year of nudging, punches and distant greetings after the garden wall, this has been a symbolic step towards normalization for England.

The government allowed the British to meet in groups of six indoors, spend the night with friends and family in the same house, travel to Green List countries and make their own decisions in matter of hugs. However, as concerns about the variant in India increase despite the easing of restrictions in the UK, some Covid government advisers are arguing that expert hug advice should be on hold for some time.

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With the variants spreading, the increase in coronavirus cases in parts of the country, and the majority of the population still not fully vaccinated, some may wonder if they really want to hug their neighbors or shake hands with strangers again. . There are many alternatives to social greetings, from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s splint to a bear hug.

Prof Lucy Yardley, member of the SAGE government committee (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) and specialist in health psychology at the University of Bristol “The important thing is not what you are doing, but the likelihood that any of you are infected with covid-19, or if the people you live with are infected, the likelihood of seriously falling. sick” said.

Of course, there are other things to consider here. Like the time you spend touching yourself and the amount of joy you get from that interaction, whether you’re inside or out.

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Here’s a welcoming and cuddling guide with expert risk levels for socializing after restrictions …

TRADITIONAL LOOP: Moderate risk – the risk is even lower if both people have washed their hands very recently

The handshake dates back to ancient Greek times and developed as a peace movement showing that neither side had weapons in their hands. But we’ve gotten used to not shaking hands anymore (and most of us don’t wear daggers on a regular basis), and is shaking hands really a tradition we want to go back to?

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Our hands are full of bacteria and viruses and a vector known to spread infectious diseases. Even after washing their hands, four in five people still harbor pathogenic bacteria. Hand gel or washing hands with soap for a long time will help eliminate this risk, but we still don’t know how many people are doing this?

Additionally, Covid-19 is not the only disease risk to be transmitted by handshaking in this way. Another SAGE member from the University of Leeds, Prof. Cath Noakes, “If the person you are shaking with has not washed their hands after using the toilet, fecal organisms can be passed from their hand. Just hearing the word ‘fecal organisms’ can give you a little hindsight. “ said. Faced with such a situation, you can sterilize your hands with antibacterial hand gel immediately after shaking your hand. However, care should be taken in this regard to avoid sounding rude.

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Kissing, greeting and hugging ... which are the riskiest

HOLD THE BEAR: High risk – lower risk if the mask is on and the heads are turning in opposite directions

Greetings made through physical contact bring you closer to others by their nature. In this way, physical contact and touch can transmit Covid-19, but the main way the virus is spread is by breathing the same air. Teacher. Cath Noakes, “When you hug like this, you potentially breathe in the other’s breath.” said. Of course, this risk can be reduced by wearing a mask and turning your head in opposite directions. A brief hug outdoors is much less risky than a long hug indoors and then drink a cup of tea in an unventilated room. Also, the emotional pleasure you get from physical contact in this way is remarkable. Teacher. Cath noakes “You kiss people you feel close to and care about, while a handshake is a polite and formal thing, and you usually shake hands with strangers.” said.

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Kissing, greeting and hugging ... which are the riskiest

Horrible aunt: Very high risk – Especially if it is a sloppy kiss

Noakes, “A watery kiss directly transfers saliva, and we all know Covid-19 can be transmitted through saliva.” said. You hope that no one other than your aunt, uncle, or partner will kiss you near your mouth, but you can wipe away the saliva that has accumulated on your cheek with your hand, then rub your nose or eyes to spread the virus . This risk applies not only to Covid, but also to other viruses and bacteria. Kissing with your mouth open in this way is riskier because it can transfer more saliva.

Professor Lucy Yardley says the risks associated with any type of physical greeting vary depending on the two people’s immunization status, how long they spend in close contact with other people, whether they are close to a person. person vulnerable to infection and local infection. tariffs in the place of residence. “If both of you are fully immunized, neither of you are vulnerable to infection, and you are not close to someone vulnerable to infection, and the infection levels in your area are low, the risk to you is also low “ said Dr. Yardley.

Kissing, greeting and hugging ... which are the riskiest

KISS: Low Risk – Safer, especially if you kiss the air from a distance

The bise, used to mean kiss in French, is a non-romantic kiss on the cheek and is often used as an aerial kiss. The kissing person pretends to kiss the air without touching their lips. Air kissing usually puts you in the same breathing environment, but your head is often pointing in opposite directions. Provided you are not physically touching your cheeks, this is a relatively low risk form of greeting. However, by doing this, even if you don’t want your kiss accidentally, there is a risk that it will reach the lips. Be careful.

Kissing, greeting and hugging ... which are the riskiest

PACKAGING IN SPOON POSITION: Medium-high risk – The risk is lower if there is a difference in height

This tight position is a good strategy, especially for grandparents who want to hug their grandchildren since they are not facing each other. Just like a child who squeezes the legs of an adult avoids face to face contact. However, the risk is higher for adults who kiss other adults in this way. Noakes, “If you are the same height, one person’s breath is on the other person’s shoulder” said.

Kissing, greeting and hugging ... which are the riskiest

Punching of tubes: Low risk – If hands are clean and move away after hugging

This form of greeting has the advantage of avoiding contact with the inner surface of the hand. This is a very safe option for those who coordinate well while doing this, especially if you’ve recently washed your hands and are still at arm’s length.
According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection (a peer-reviewed medical journal published on behalf of the Health Infection Association), punching in this manner reduces the risk of bacterial contamination four times more than shaking hands. According to research, the total contact time of the handshake was almost three times as long.

However, another more recent study indicates that the transfer of germs is similar between the closing of the fist and the handshake. According to the study, which analyzed the transfer of Staphylococcus aureus, which is commonly found in hospital patients and also known as the super virus, from patients to researchers wearing sterile gloves, the transfer of microbes was found to be similar between the fist grip and the handshake.

Kissing, greeting and hugging ... which are the riskiest

CHANGE OF ELBOW: Low risk – Especially if it is short lived and both sides are turning their heads in a different direction while doing this

If anyone had suggested the elbow tightening as a standard form of social greeting, you would think they were joking, but Boris Johnson has normalized this movement, and the habit seems contagious. Social distancing guidelines emphasize “the benefits of being on the side rather than having face-to-face contact with people,” such as nudging. Whether this greeting will continue after the outbreak is a matter of curiosity.

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