Nigeria's revolutionary salute stalls Ebola

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Image caption President Jonathan watches Lagos Governor Babatunde Fashola sanitise his hands

The governors of Nigeria's 36 states have started greeting one another with clenched fist salutes - not out of revolutionary fervour, but to avoid transmitting the deadly Ebola virus.

President Goodluck Jonathan summoned the governors and regional health commissioners to an emergency meeting in the capital, Abuja, to discuss how to stop the spread of Ebola, and the governors "opted to greet one another with clenched fists", This Day newspaper reports, quoting the official News Agency of Nigeria.

The health ministry's Ebola awareness programme is discouraging Nigerians from shaking hands to avoid further infection, and the clenched fist is the latest in a series of changes people are making to avoid physical contact. MPs stopped shaking hands earlier this week, and even the Catholic Church has reviewed its 'Sign of Peace' gesture of shaking hands with your neighbour during Mass.

Three people have died of Ebola in Nigeria since it arrived in late July, and 10 more have been diagnosed with the disease. Many Nigerians who had initial contact with carriers have been quarantined, and several others are under observation, the paper says. At their meeting with the president, the governors agreed to set up seven laboratories nationwide to test for Ebola, and upheld a decision to ban the movement of corpses from state to state without a waiver from the federal ministry of health and proper safeguards.

Scientists at Aberystwyth University have established that shaking hands is one of the most effective ways of passing on bacteria, and recommend 'fist-bumping' as a much less risky way of greeting if people don't want to avoid physical contact altogether.

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