The Chulalongkorn School of Integrated Innovation (SCII) has implemented a handshake-free zone throughout its building, offices and classrooms to avoid the potential spreading of the coronavirus.
This is among a slew of precautionary measures the School has adopted to ensure health and safety in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Besides restricting international travel to countries currently in the grip of the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring the availability of sanitizers, all of which has been mandated by the Royal Thai Government as well as Chulalongkorn University itself, SCII has gone a step further by introducing a handshake-free zone in its building.
“If we revert to the traditional Thai wai greeting, we will go a long way toward preventing physical contact and thus the spread of the coronavirus,” says Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, Executive Director of SCII. “The world over, we have governments (e.g., France) telling audiences to avoid the handshake. We in Thailand already have a solution if we revert to the wai instead of the western handshake,” Prof. Worsak added.
The wai is a Thai greeting where both parties greet each other with a slight bow and with palms pressed together and elbows tucked into their sides. It is widely practiced in Thailand and by Thais living abroad. However, contemporary business and international practice has also resulted in the handshake slowly displacing the wai.
“Medical practitioners have experimented with handshake-free zones in hospitals, particularly where patients are vulnerable, as in neonatal intensive care units, and studies have been published in leading medical journals,” Prof. Worsak revealed. The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) has implemented this practice for a six-month period, while a study conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder revealed that a typical hand carries roughly 150 different species of living bacteria. In fact, the researchers came across 4,700 different bacteria species across 102 human hands in their study.
Already, posters announcing the implementation of the handshake-free zone have been displayed at vantage points in SCII offices in the Chaloem Rajakumari 60 building. Though the handshake is not banned outright and neither is the fist-bump, everyone is encouraged to adopt the wai to avoid physical contact.
“The decision to implement a handshake-free zone is based on solid science and research, and we hope it is adopted by other offices and institutions,” Prof. Worsak said.