The hospital where Boris Johnson was photographed without a mask this week have said they told him to wear one... three times.

On Tuesday, photos of Johnson at Hexham General Hospital without a mask went viral and his official spokesperson and the the NHS trust in question were quick to defend him as he faced huge backlash.

It has now been alleged that before arriving at the hospital, Johnson’s team was emailed by hospital bosses prior to his visit to tell him masks must be worn in all areas, according to The Mirror sources.

Then upon arrival at the hospital, Johnson was prompted again of this rule and then was reminded a third time.

Meanwhile, Northumberland health officials have said the prime minister wore a mask for “the majority” of the visit to the hospital on November 8, The Independent reported.

However, they added: “After [he] left a welcome meeting, he walked along a mezzanine corridor, for a very short period of time, without a mask,” in which he was then snapped greeting nurses not wearing a mask.

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Though “As soon as this was identified he was given a mask and he put it on.”

Health officials explained: “He didn’t have a mask on when he did his media interviews, but this was with agreement with everyone else in the room, who did wear a mask.”

They added: “We ask that everyone visiting our hospital sites continue to follow our infection control and prevention rules.”

As a result of being snapped maskless during a hospital tour, Johnson has been widely criticised for not setting an example.

According to The Mirror, Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck in Northumberland, said: “People were astonished that the Prime Minister was bowling up the corridor of a hospital without a mask.

“This shows a callous disregard for patients, visitors and the fantastic workforce, who have been at the frontline throughout the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Susie Flintham of the campaign group Covid-19 Families for Justice echoed similar concerns, and said: “The PM was putting lives at risk completely unnecessarily by visiting a hospital and refusing to put his mask on, despite being repeatedly asked to,” reported The Mirror.

Downing Street spokesperson defended Johnson: “I am confident he will have abided by the rules in place,” the i reported.

While the Northumbria NHS trust also followed suit, saying the prime minister had “followed strict measures, including wearing a mask, in each clinical area he visited.”

It’s not the first time Johnson has faced heat for his maskless appearances.

At the COP26 climate, he caused outrage after photographs emerged of Johnson appearing mask-less while sitting next to 95-year-old David Attenborough.

Though a Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson had followed the rules “throughout” and that guests at the summit were“not required to wear a face mask when they are seated.”

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