Its time to Bow not Ciao. Perhaps it becomes obvious when the stats are front and center. Italy is most definitely the highest affected country. This is not as surprising though as one might think.
Italy is known for being a warm, physically close culture. Most people, men and women, greet with a kiss on the cheek. Both cheeks!. If spreading coronavirus was a sport, this is two shots on goal from inches away, with no opposition. There are few ways to make spreading covid-19 easier.
The good news is that there is a high probability of survival, although uncomfortable for about a week. Much like the flu and its many versions, the best practice of avoidance is limiting contact with introduction to the eyes, nose and mouth. There is a slight chance death can occur from the covid-19 strain, however, which is a good reason to change a few cultural policies. limiting contact limits chances. Avoiding disease has always been a game of limiting contact with others and places and things others touch.
Perhaps its time to learn from East Asian cultures, where bowing a greeting is more customary. If survival is the goal amidst panic, its time to lay down some cultural expectations and begin bowing greetings rather than shaking hands (DIRECT CONTACT) or kissing people on the cheek (DIRECT HIT).
The numbers of infection in cultures that permit direct contact are going to be staggering due to cultural habit and expectation. Everyone has met people that wear gloves everywhere they go. In the US this can be almost offensive. There must be some understanding delivered to people that wish to protect their bodies by limiting contact from not shaking hands or kissing upon greeting, without taking it personally. People have a right to protect themselves and an obligation to do so. Its a lowering of odds, not a lack of affection.
Therefore, if someone bows a greeting instead of extending a hand, the culture-changing responsible thing to do is to bow back. Or nod. Perhaps tip a hat. These are not new to our society, but may become prolific. If people are truly concerned about coronavirus then do something about stopping the spread. Its as simple as changing a greeting deeply embedded in our cultures. Want to protect your children at home? Reduce the chances of bringing it home. Its time to ‘Bow, not Ciao’.