LONDON (AP) — The Premier League is scrapping pregame handshakes between players and officials as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The league said Thursday that the traditional handshakes will not take place “until further notice based on medical advice.”

“Coronavirus is spread via droplets from the nose and mouth and can be transmitted on to the hands and passed on via a handshake,” the league said in a statement.

The French league adopted a similar measure on Wednesday.

Premier League leader Liverpool also said it will not use any child mascots on game days. The children normally walk out onto the field holding hands with the players before the game.

By Thursday, 115 people in the U.K. had tested positive for the new virus. England’s chief medical officer said U.K. authorities have largely shifted from efforts to contain the virus to now attempting to delay its spread.

In Italy, which is the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Europe, all sports events will take place without fans present for the next month.


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