Video Shows Boris Johnson Boast About Shaking Hands With Coronavirus Patients Before Getting Disease Himself

Jonathan Vankin

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that he has now tested positive for coronavirus. Yet, approximately three weeks ago, Johnson publicly scoffed at the idea that the virus could be transmitted by handshakes. In a video that quickly went viral Friday, he bragged on March 3 about visiting a hospital and shaking hands with patients suffering from the disease.

In fact, at the time, Johnson told reporters that they would be "pleased to know" that he shook hands with coronavirus patients in a surprise visit to Kettering General Hospital in England's Northamptonshire County in the country's East Midlands region, according to an account by Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper.

Johnson on March 3 stated, "I shook hands with everybody" at the hospital, which housed some coronavirus victims.

"I continue to shake hands."

Johnson also appeared to question "scientific evidence" that shaking hands could transmit the disease, saying that, at least at that time, the United Kingdom government's advice was for individuals to wash their hands, but apparently not to avoid shaking hands with others.

"I can continue thanks to the wizardry of modern technology to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus," Johnson said in a video message.

In the United States, Donald Trump continued to publicly shake hands with others until at least March 13, according to The Associated Press, despite the strong warnings from medical experts that person-to-person contact was one of the most efficient ways that the virus can be transmitted.

However, Trump recently changed his tune, saying on Thursday of this week that he now thought the custom of shaking hands could simply go away as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as quoted by USA Today.

"Maybe people aren't going to be shaking hands anymore," Trump said at a press briefing, citing government infectious disease chief Anthony Fauci as saying that refraining from handshakes would also cut down on the transmission of the influenza virus, as well as the deadlier coronavirus.

"I don't think he would be too upset with the concept of not shaking hands," Trump said at the Thursday press briefing.