'No more handshakes': PM warns against common gesture

·3-min read

The prime minister has raised a few eyebrows after declaring we all needed to stop shaking hands on Sunday afternoon.

As Scott Morrison told reporters the government would be implementing a requirement for anyone arriving in Australia to be isolated for 14 days, he also advised people refrain from physical contact such as shaking hands.

“That is a new thing we've moved to, something I will be practising, my cabinet members and others are now practising,” Mr Morrison said.

“This is not something that was necessarily a key requirement weeks ago but it's just another step up now.

“This is very important, what we've seen in recent weeks, is more countries having issues with the virus and that means the source of some of those transmissions are coming from more and more countries,” he told reporters.

The Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian reacts as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison goes to shake her hand as he arrives at the Meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) at Parramatta Stadium.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian reacts as Prime Minister Scott Morrison goes to shake her hand at a COAG meeting on Friday. Source: Getty Images

However, just hours earlier Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told ABC’s Insiders handshakes were “low risk”.

On Twitter, people were both confused and critical over the mixed messages.

Among those critical of it was former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“Why can’t we even get a clear answer on shaking hands?” he tweeted after Professor Murphy’s interview.

Mr Turnbull later tweeted, “at last a clear message which for some reason was not capable of being delivered this morning”.

Another man tweeted, “I bet the people of Cobargo are relieved”, referencing the PM’s ill-fated trip to the fire-ravaged town on the NSW South Coast.

Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response co-ordinator, spoke about the importance of practising good hygiene in a press conference earlier this month.

"Well, we are always saying: the common sense of washing your hands, not touching your face, ensuring that if you've touched anything you go and wash your hands again. Twenty seconds with soap. Hand sanitisers also work,” Dr Birx said.

US President Donald Trump then joked about the measures he had taken.

“I haven’t touched my face in weeks,” Mr Trump said.

“I miss it.”

While people in the White House laughed at his joke others weren’t amused.

“So strange,” one woman tweeted.

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