Europe

Boris Johnson says the coronavirus won't stop him shaking hands

Boris Johnson has assured people he won't stop shaking people's hands during the coronavirus outbreak.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the coronavirus won't stop him greeting people with a handshake, adding that he had shaken hands with everyone at a hospital where he said infected patients were being treated.

Mr Johnson was speaking at the announcement of Britain’s plan to deal with the expected spread of the virus, which included a warning that as many as one in five employees could be off work at the peak of the outbreak.

The global death toll from the virus is over 3,000, prompting a range of official, and sometimes contradictory, advice on how to prevent its spread.

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Australia and France recommended that people do not shake hands to prevent the spread of the virus, while Switzerland has said its residents should consider dropping the everyday greeting of kissing each other on the cheek.

Mr Johnson, however, exhibited no such caution.

“I’m shaking hands,” the Prime Minister said when asked how he planned to handle visiting dignitaries.

“I was at a hospital the other night where I think a few there were actually coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you’ll be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands."

He said people were free to make up their own minds but referred to the scientific advice he had received that washing hands was the "crucial thing".

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