Here are all the times Boris Johnson failed to follow his own advice on preventing coronavirus

Sirena Bergman@SirenaBergman
Friday 27 March 2020 11:45
news

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just revealed he has tested positive for coronavirus, making him the first world leader known to have been infected.

Barely an hour later, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed he has also tested positive.

No one can know exactly how they contracted the virus, and politicians by all accounts do have a lot of contact with members of the public. But evidence thus far suggests the prime minister may not have been as cautious as he was encouraging the rest of us to be.

Here are the times he appeared to contradict official advice on preventing the spread of coronavirus.

1. When he held PMQs after a minister tested positive

One of the first high profile cases of coronavirus in the UK was MP Nadine Dorries, who revealed she tested positive two weeks ago, and has since made a full recovery.

Despite advice that anyone who has come into contact with the virus should self-isolate for 7-14 days Prime Minister's Questions, which occur in the Commons (packed full of MPs). Some sources suggest the entire room was cleaned following Dorries' diagnosis, but obviously she could have infected any number of people in the room.

Here's a photo from this week's PMQs, which shows Johnson and Hancock very close to each other...

2. When he went to a hospital and shook hands with Covid-19 patients

During his first news conference exclusively addressing the coronavirus pandemic, Johnson attempted to reassure the public about the potential dangers.

In doing so, he appeared to try and channel Princess Diana's iconic moment shaking hands with patients during the peak of the Aids crisis. He said:

I was at a hospital where there were a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody.

Given that prior to this every authority out there was encouraging us all to scrub our hands in order to avoid transmission, it seemed like a strange choice to declare that he was intentionally exposing himself to the virus.

3. When he told people to stand two metres apart from each other... while standing in between two people

In a number of televised press briefings earlier this month, Johnson urged people to respect social distancing measures including standing two metres away from people when indoors.

However as many pointed out at the time, it didn't appear that he was taking his own advice, given he appeared with two people on either side of him, in the example below it was Housing Minister Robert Jenrick and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jennie Harries, although on other occasions he also appeared beside Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Cameras can obviously warp our perception somewhat, but this didn't really look like two meters to anyone.

(BBC)

4. When he held press briefings in a room packed full of reporters

These daily press briefings were being held live in small rooms full of people until just this week, where he pivoted to videostreaming journalists' questions.

In certain shots of the briefings, you can clearly see journalists sitting next to each other while answering questions. The irony was not lost.

5. When he implied he might be seeing his mother

In another live press briefing last week, Johnson was asked what advice he had for people when it came to celebrating Mother's Day.

He replied:

Our advice is that elderly people, people with serious underlying health conditions and people in the later stages of pregnancy, you have to be careful about transmission of the virus. I’m sure people will handle that advice accordingly.

But he went on to say:

I’m in regular contact with all members of my family but I’ll be working very hard on Sunday, I can tell you that. I will certainly be sending her my very best wishes and hope to get to see her.

This confused many, as Charlotte Johnson Wahl is 77 years old – and prior advice stated that anyone over 70 should avoid all social contact.

The following day, he clarified that people should call or Skype their mothers on Sunday, but that particular detail was omitted when millions were watching.

Here's wishing Johnson and Hancock a safe and speedy recovery... in isolation.

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