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Opinions of Thursday, 19 March 2020

Columnist: Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako

Here’s why we must avoid handshakes even post-coronavirus pandemic

Until the outbreak of the Coronavirus, we usually shook hands at business meetings, funerals, weddings, churches, sports events, nightclubs and countless other social engagements.

During most of these engagements, many people do not use hand sanitizers either immediately before or immediately after shaking hands. While we have not often seen highly infectious viruses like Ebola and Coronavirus, the case for permanently avoiding handshakes post-COVID-19 can still be made, very strongly.

First, you have no idea where people have been or what they have touched prior to attending that social engagement or that business meeting. I have seen, in an office environment, someone come out of the toilet and go straight back into the office without washing his hands at the sink located just outside the toilet. To make things worse, this person joined other colleagues to eat lunch from the same bowl!

Needless to tell you, I told them I didn’t like Kenkey, which was the meal they were eating! Now imagine you are a visitor attending a business meeting with this person. You shake his hand. Whatever germs he may have carried from he toilet is shared with you. The same applies to all the people whose hands you shake at a funeral or wedding or church or nightclub. You just have no idea where they have been or what they have touched. Shaking their hands means sharing whatever bacteria or viruses they may have in their hands.

Now, you may say you will wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after whatever social engagements before touching your face or touching food. Great. But while attending the social function or meeting, what would you normally do when you need to wipe off sweat or feel itchy on your face?

Most of us will use our handkerchiefs, which we then re-use as often as we feel sweaty or itchy during that function or meeting. Even if you want to use a tissue to wipe off sweat or scratch off itching face, your hand is so close to your face that you are likely to inhale any virus in your hand. This must really be the end of handshakes as we know it.

Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako

Accra, Ghana

Tel: +233 246 282 030

E: antwi29@gmail.com

Twitter: @ABKwaku

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