As the world battles a coronavirus outbreak, OPEC ministers attending the meeting in Vienna greet with their feet while avoiding hugs.

Iran Press/Europe: OPEC ministers attending the meeting in Vienna to decide oil production policy have been given strict instructions: no handshakes, don’t hug and wash your hands frequently.

"Avoid close contact," reads a poster for ministers and delegates as they enter the headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in the Austrian capital. "Avoid handshakes and hugs," it adds in its list of directives.

The secretary-general of the group, Mohammad Barkindo, and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak were shown in a video chuckling as they tapped each others feet, as an alternative form of greeting.

The Coronavirus outbreak began in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and appears to have been originated from non-domestic animals. Chinese officials now admit that the virus probably spread in Wuhan in November or even earlier. 

Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh who had also attended the meeting, being asked whether the coronavirus outbreak had affected Iran’s output, said: "We are producing like before. Of course, in the transportation sector inside the cities, we have witnessed a reduction in consumption."

Speaking ahead of the 178th OPEC meeting, he said: "I believe we have an oversupply in this situation because the situation is very sensitive and after the coronavirus situation we have an oversupply in the market and it’s necessary that OPEC and non-OPEC producers do something to restore balance to the market."

According to the study of OPEC secretariat, he said that at least it’s necessary to reduce output by about half a million barrels.

Responding to a question of whether Iran is pursuing a policy of more than 500,000 barrels of oil reduction, Iran's Petroleum Minister added politics is working here not experts' view on the number.

At the meeting, oil-exporting countries' ministers are set to decide on further cuts in production to counter the negative effects of the coronavirus on demand.


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