THE PRIME Minister happily announced he was shaking hands with coronavirus patients just weeks before he tested positive for Covid-19.

The prime minister confirmed he had entered self-isolation on Friday.

On March 3, in a 'business as usual' press conference, he was ridiculed as he announced that people would be "pleased to know" that the virus would not stop him greeting hospital patients with a handshake.

Both Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock are in self-isolation with coronavirus.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson caught coronavirus by ignoring his own advice, scientist claims

Mr Johnson spoke of his handshaking policy during a March 3 press conference when he was asked about confusing advice about shaking hands. He laughed as he was asked by one journalist whether he had a personal policy himself, about shaking hands with visiting dignitaries, and if not how he would avert an "international incident".


He replied: "I can tell you, I am shaking hands contin... I was at a hospital the other night when I think there were actually a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you'll be pleased to know. And I continue to shake hands and, I think it is very important that we... people can make up their own minds, I think Matt has said that people must make up their own minds. I think the scientific evidence is...well I will hand over to the experts."

The government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance interjected saying, "wash your hands", before appearing to purse his lips and slightly shake his head.

Mr Johnson quickly added:"Our judgment is wash. Washing your hands is the crucial thing... BEFORE you shake hands, obviously."

It was later clarified by Number 10 that the prime minister meant NHS workers rather than actual sick patients.

He did not say which hospital he was referring to, but the comments were made after the PM's surprise late-night visit to Kettering General Hospital in Northamptonshire.

At the time, health around the world, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were advising people to stop shaking hands during outbreaks — as well as washing their hands and not touching their faces — to prevent the virus from spreading.

At the time doctors in France advised against kissing each other and in a hospital in Germany, doctors not only stopped shaking hands with their patients, even non-contagious ones, but  actively encouraged them to follow the example.

Sports teams were telling players to stop shaking hands before games.

But before Mr Johnson's comments on handshaking, 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".

"The end of handshaking is not something that the scientists are recommending," he added at the time.

His comments came at a press conference where he was flanked by Mr Vallance, and the chief medical officer Chris Witty in which he published a Coronavirus Action Plan setting out how all four parts of the UK will take "all necessary and reasonable steps to tackle this outbreak".

But he also assured the British public that at that time, when there were just 53 cases in the UK it was "business as usual".

The plan, he said, had four strands. Containing the virus, delaying its spread, researching its origins and cure, and finally mitigating the impact should the virus become more widespread. That is, contain, delay, research, mitigate.

"And let me be absolutely clear that for the overwhelming majority of people who contract the virus, this will be a mild disease from which they will speedily and fully recover as we’ve already seen.

"But I fully understand public concern, your concern, about the global spread of this virus. And it is highly likely that we will see a growing number of UK cases.


"And that’s why keeping the country safe is the government’s overriding priority. And our plan means we’re committed to doing everything possible based on the advice of our world leading scientific experts to prepare for all eventualities.

"Let’s not forget – we already have a fantastic NHS, fantastic testing systems and fantastic surveillance of the spread of disease.

"We will make sure the NHS gets all the support it needs to continue their brilliant response to the virus so far.

"The plan does not set out what the government will do, it sets out the steps we could take at the right time along the basis of the scientific advice."

He said then that the country remains "extremely well prepared as it has been since the outbreak began in Wuhan several months ago".

The full March 3 press conference.

He added: "Finally, crucially, we must not forget what we can all do to fight this virus, which is to wash our hands, you knew I was going to say this, but wash our hands with soap and water. And forgive me for repeating this but there will be people who will be tuning into this for the first time: wash your hands with soap and hot water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.

"It’s simple advice but it’s the single most important thing we can do, as I think our experts would attest.

"But at this stage, and with the exception of all of the points I have just mentioned, I want to stress that for the vast majority of the people of this country, we should be going about our business as usual."