Phillip Schofield tried to dodge shaking Boris Johnson’s hand amid coronavirus fears.
Phillip and co-host Holly Willoughby quizzed the Prime Minister after new allegations emerged that the government was withholding information about the coronavirus.
Mr. Johnson admitted that he had been shaking the hands of people in hospital this week where patients were being treated by the virus.
He explained to the hosts: ‘I washed my hands before I came on.’
Schofield told the Prime Minister that he kept his hands by his side on purpose as he explained with a rather worried look on his face: ‘You came straight in here and I kept my hands by my side just to see what would happen and you shook my hand.’
Mr. Johnson responded: ‘I’ve been going around hospitals as you can imagine and always shake hands. People make their own decisions. Washing them is the key.’
The PM claimed he would still be shaking hands with people while speaking at the unveiling of the UK’s battle plan to treat coronavirus.
‘I’m shaking hands,’ he commented.
‘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.’
There are now 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK – a sharp rise from 39 on Monday.
On Wednesday, the government announced its battle plan for dealing with coronavirus, including a warning that up to one in five workers in the UK could be off sick as the disease hits its peak.
Emergency measures to cope with a spread of cases could include school closures, drafting in the army to help emergency services and asking retired medical staff to come back to work.
Police may also be forced to focus on serious crime in the case of staff shortages, while the NHS could delay non-urgent care.
This Morning airs weekdays at 10am on ITV.
UK government’s coronavirus action plan
Boris Johnson has revealed the government’s battle plan to tackle coronavirus in the UK.
The key points from the announcement, made on 3 March, are:
– If police lose ‘significant staff’ numbers to illness, they would ‘concentrate ‘on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order’.
– In a ‘stretching scenario’, it is possible that up to one fifth of employees may be absent from work during peak weeks.
– Everyone will face increased pressures at work, as well as potentially their own illness and caring responsibilities. Supporting staff welfare ‘will be critical’ for businesses.
– The UK has stockpiles of medicines for the NHS, plus protective clothing and equipment for medical staff.
– The public can help delay the spread of the virus by washing hands with soap regularly, not spreading misinformation and relying on trusted sources. They should also ensure family vaccines are up to date and check on family, friends and neighbours. They should also check Foreign Office advice before travelling abroad and be understanding of the pressures the health service is under.
– The public will be asked to accept that ‘the advice for managing Covid-19 for most people will be self-isolation at home and simple over the counter medicines’.
– If coronavirus becomes established, there will be a focus on essential services and helping those ‘most at risk to access the right treatment’.
– During the mitigation phase, when the virus is much more widespread, ‘pressures on services and wider society may become significant and clearly noticeable’.
– The Ministry of Defence will provide support as needed, including to essential services.
– There will be increased Government communication with Parliament, the public and the media if the virus becomes more widespread.
– All Government departments to have a lead person for coronavirus.
– If the virus takes hold, social distancing strategies could include school closures, encouraging greater home working, reducing the number of large scale gatherings and closing other educational settings.
– It is possible that an outbreak or pandemic of Covid-19 could come in multiple waves.
– Non-urgent operations and other procedures could be cancelled, and hospital discharges monitored to free-up beds, with appropriate care in people’s homes.
– Hospital worker shifts could be altered and leavers or retirees called ‘back to duty’.
– Measures exist to help businesses with short-term cash flow problems.
– There is a distribution strategy for sending out key medicines and equipment to NHS and social care.
– This strain of coronavirus is new and people have a lack of immunity to it, meaning ‘Covid-19 has the potential to spread extensively’.
– Everyone is susceptible to catching the disease and thus it is ‘more likely than not that the UK will be significantly affected’.
– There could be an ‘increase in deaths arising from the outbreak, particularly among vulnerable and elderly groups’.
– While most people will suffer mild to moderate symptoms, similar to seasonal flu, some will need hospital care due to pneumonia developing.
– Young children can become infected and ‘suffer severe illness’, but overall the illness is less common in the under-20s.
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