Newcastle end hand-shake ritual amid coronavirus threat

The coronavirus threat has forced Newcastle United to abandon a special morning ritual. Steve Bruce’s players have formed a habit of shaking hands with every teammate and members of the backroom staff daily as they meet for training. However, the practice has been temporarily suspended based on medical advice.

“There’s a ritual here that everybody shakes hands with everybody as soon as we see each other every morning,” said Bruce in preparation for Saturday’s Premier League game against Burnley at St James’ Park.

“But we’ve stopped that on the advice of our club doctor. Thankfully, we’ve got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do. We’re like everybody else, we’re glued to the TV for where it’s going to go next and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.”

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Bruce added that clubs are aware that they might be required to sometimes isolate and quarantine individuals to cope with other viruses and similar infections which afflicted Newcastle in December.

“In confined areas, like we’ve got here, you have to be careful,” said Bruce.

“There was a time over Christmas when there was a virus knocking around here – not coronavirus – so we’re a bit mindful of the fact that a bug can sweep through. We had four or five [PLAYERS]at Christmas and two of my staff [suffering from the virus], so you stay at home. But it’s always something you’re looking at.”

Regardless of the handshake ban, Newcastle players still socialize and even staged a barbecue this week to celebrate Argentine center-back Federico Fernandez’s 31st birthday.

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“The South Americans have meat rather than cake for birthdays,” said Bruce.

“We’ve had that much steak it’s incredible but there’s a unique spirit among my players.”

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