World News

Malaysia says no more 'fist bumps' as coronavirus numbers jump

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask crosses a street in front of Petronas Twin Towers, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian authorities on Tuesday reminded the public to avoid physical contact, including fist bumps as a form of greeting, as the number of new coronavirus cases in the country climbed to a three-month high.

The fist bump, where two people briefly press their closed fists together, has replaced the traditional handshake in popularity as people around the world sought to limit the spread of the pandemic.

But Malaysia’s top health official said any form of physical contact presents the risk of infection and reminded people to maintain a distance of at least one metre (3.3 feet).

“This is why we’re telling people not to fist bump,” the Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah told reporters.

The Southeast Asian country recorded a three-digit rise in new infections for the first time since early June, with 100 cases reported on Tuesday.

Malaysia has so far avoided the level of outbreaks seen in neighbors the Philippines and Indonesia, which have 241,987 and 200,035 cases respectively. Indonesia’s death toll of 8,230 is the region’s highest.

Malaysia has reported a total of 9,559 infections, including 128 deaths.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Christian Schmollinger