Boris Johnson ridiculed for suggesting he had been shaking hands with coronavirus victims

PUBLISHED: 14:06 03 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:31 03 March 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference, at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Frank Augstein/PA Wire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference, at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Frank Augstein/PA Wire.

Boris Johnson has been ridiculed after he suggested he had been shaking hands with coronavirus victims at a recent hospital visit.

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Johnson told reporters at a press conference in Downing Street: "I am shaking hands. I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were coronavirus patients and I was shaking hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.

"People must make up their own minds but I think the scientific evidence is ... our judgment is that washing your hands is the crucial thing."

The prime minister said the public must "make up their own minds" about the gesture, though he added that the government's judgment is that hand-washing is the "crucial thing".

Earlier, health secretary Matt Hancock said scientific advice suggests "the impact of shaking hands is negligible and what really matters is that you wash your hands more often".

But the fact that Johnson suggested he had been shaking his hands with different people with the virus concerned members of the public, especially with a pregnant girlfriend back home.

It was later clarified that the prime minister meant NHS workers rather than actual sick patients.

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