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Leading medical officer says hugs and handshakes in Australia are off the cards 

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Australia’s top nurse has warned that social handshakes and hugging should be shunned to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Chief nursing and midwifery officer Alison McMillan said although handshakes and hugs are ‘very much’ part of Australia’s culture, they should be avoided.

‘We have reached a point at the moment where a handshake is no longer something we should be doing socially,’ she said on Sunday.

Two Spanish boys in Barcelona show how to do the elbow bump, which is a healthy greeting alternative to shaking hands, to show a warm welcome while the coronavirus pandemic is on

Even if wearing a face mask, handshakes should be ditched in favour of low risk gestures of showing welcome or greeting, such as elbow bumps.

And hugging should be restricted to only the people that you live with, she said.

‘If you are within your family unit, the people you live with, if it is your children or your loved ones, of course if they live with you, you can hug,’ she said. 

‘When it comes to the broader community and hugging others outside of your family unit, then no we really think at this point in time we need to think of innovative and different ways to show a welcome or a greeting to someone but not a hug.’

Passengers arrive in Sydney from Hong Kong on Sunday. Hugging and shaking hands is now off the table for extended family greetings in favour of alternative displays of welcome

Pictured: Chief nursing and midwifery officer Alison McMillan talking to reporters on Sunday

‘At some point perhaps in the future we may reach a point where we will see hugging again, but not at this point in time.’   

Professor McMillan also warned people to be wary of where they get their information about the potential coronavirus vaccine candidates, urging them to trust information only from reliable sources, after a number of conspiracy websites have spread fear without evidence.

‘We will be ensuring we provide clear, accurate, concise information to all Australians about the nature of the vaccine and how safe it is, and we hope and encourage all Australians seek out the information from a reliable source,’ she said.

Professor McMillan spoke as Australia’s coronavirus death toll passed 500 on Sunday.

Most of Australia’s new cases came from Victoria which recorded 208 new infections and 17 new deaths.

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 24,619

Victoria: 18,231

New South Wales: 3,796

Queensland: 1,103

Western Australia: 651

South Australia: 462

Tasmania: 230

Australian Capital Territory: 113

Northern Territory: 33

TOTAL CASES: 24,619

CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 4262

DEATHS: 502

 Updated: 5.54pm, 23 August, 2020

All of Victoria’s new deaths were in people aged over 60.

The worst-hit state has a total of 18,231 cases of which 4012 are active, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said on Sunday night.

New South Wales cases grew by four in the 24 hours to 8pm Saturday, one of whom was a hotel security guard.

The state’s coronavirus tally has reached a total of 3796 of which 90 are active, NSW Health said on Sunday night.

Queensland’s Brisbane Youth Detention Centre cluster grew by two infections on Sunday, adding a woman in her thirties and a baby boy to the growing total of nine.

Professor McMillan said the Federal Government is ‘monitoring very closely’ but said she was confident the Queensland health authorities had the situation under control.

Public health alerts have been issued over more than 40 hotspots across Brisbane, Ipswich and Logan, in the race to track any potential cases linked to the outbreak. 

The Queensland government issued a health warning on Sunday night, adding several locations to its list of places and times where people may have come in contact with an infected person linked to the detention center cluster.

The state has restricted gatherings without an official covid-safe plan to 10 people across Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, the Scenic Rim region, Somerset, the Lockyer Valley, Moreton Bay and Redlands City.

Western Australia and South Australia recorded one new case each bringing Australia’s new cases to 216, for a total of 24,619 across the nation.

Worldwide the spread has now infected 23.4 million people with 808,856 deaths and 61,663 in a critical condition according to Worldometers statistics on Sunday night.

The US is still the country with the most cases at 5.8 million infections and 180,174 deaths as of Sunday night.

Sesame Place park employee, 17, has jaw surgery after visitor punched him when asked to wear a mask 

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