Ebola handshake is the safe way to greet people in countries at centre of outbreak
Ebola handshake is the safe way to greet people in countries at centre of outbreakTwitter/U.S. Embassy Bamako

While it may sound adorably similar to the 'Harlem Shake' or the 'Hokey Pokey', 'Ebola handshake', is not, as the name might suggest, a happy, viral dance move. It is in fact, a serious measure taken by the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, to curb the spread of Ebola virus.

Power introduced the 'Ebola handshake' by touching elbows with the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at a press conference earlier this week, the Daily Mail reported. Since then, she has been demonstrating this fresh handshake to others as well, including Dr. Peter Graaff, World Health Organisation's representative to Liberia.

During the initial stages of Ebola outbreak, health authorities had advised people against shaking hands or making any close contact with residents of countries stricken by the deadly virus.

However, it is important to remember that the "Ebola handshake" is merely a precautionary measure and that it merely works as another layer of protection against the fatal disease. Moreover, Ebola is known to spread only through bodily fluids and unless you are in Liberia or Guinea, where Ebola virus is spreading like wildfire, there really isn't a reason for one to go around tapping elbows with each other.

Former White House speechwriter and healthcare executive Michael Johns asks on Twitter, "If #Ebola is not contagious through human contact, why is the US ambassador shaking elbows, as opposed to hands?"

Many see the Ebola handshake as just another way to marginalise those infected by the disease, especially in the wake of discriminatory government policies against the West African nations that are known as the breeding ground for the deadly virus.

While Australia has banned visas for citizens of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Canada has suspended visa applications from residents and passport-holders from West African countries in the grip of the Ebola outbreak. Even Hajj pilgrims from the Ebola-infected nations were banned from Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, many concerned people demand that the authorities come up with better solutions to defeat the disease than a silly new handshake. "They are telling us here not to be afraid, Ebola is no big deal, not spreading at all, but then they are going around bumping elbows in an attempt to show the world how safe Ebola is," Ebola Virus Tracker, a Facebook group spreading awareness about the deadly disease posted.

"This handshake is REAL! We can't let this absurdity take hold. Let's make sure that Ebola never changes the way we shake hands in America."

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