Former vice president Jusuf Kalla, left, does the 'elbow-shake' with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday. (Instagram Post)

Greetings in the Time of Corona: Indonesia Introduces 'Elbow-Shake'


MARCH 12, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesian officials have been seen "elbow-shaking" to greet each other in their offices as part of a campaign to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In a photo that went viral, former vice president Jusuf Kalla is seen elbow-shaking with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati during a meeting at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday.

Presidential chief of staff General (ret.) Moeldoko said members of the cabinet have been showing off the new way of greeting people during official gatherings.

"It's good that we do it. Doing the normal handshake is risky at the moment," Moeldoko said at the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta.

"This way we can still say our greetings. It looks a bit funny but it's a good thing," he said.

However, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was apparently unaware of the new gesture, instinctively reaching out his right hand to his ministers when opening the Asian Agriculture Forum at the State Palace in the morning.

But the president did avoid the handshake with the other guests. Instead, he pressed his hands together in front of his chest to welcome the audience without touching them.

The gesture was also adopted by Vice President Ma'ruf Amin when he greeted people on Thursday.

At least 34 people have been confirmed of having the coronavirus in Indonesia, including four foreigners.

The country reported its first fatality of the highly contagious Covid-19 disease on Wednesday, after a 53-year-old British woman died in a Bali hospital.