Angela Rayner accuses Boris Johnson of lying about shaking hands with coronavirus patients

Boris Johnson has been accused by Labour’s Angela Rayner of lying about shaking hands with coronavirus patients.

The prime minister was asked on Tuesday whether he had stopped shaking hands with people in an effort to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

He told reporters: "I am shaking hands. I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were coronavirus patients and I was shaking hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.

"People must make up their own minds but I think the scientific evidence is… our judgement is that washing your hands is the crucial thing."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a laboratory at the Public Health England National Infection Service in Colindale, north London, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK leapt to 35 after 12 new patients were identified in England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a laboratory at the Public Health England National Infection Service in Colindale, north London. (PA)
Labour's Angela Rayner accused Mr Johnson of lying. (Angela Rayner/Facebook)
Labour's Angela Rayner accused Mr Johnson of lying. (Angela Rayner/Facebook)

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Angela Rayner, the favourite to win Labour’s deputy leadership contest next month, jumped on the prime minister’s comments, accusing him of lying about shaking hands with patients.

She wrote on Facebook: “Boris Johnson visited Kettering General Hospital and there are NO Coronavirus cases there, but he said he shook hands with patients who had #Coronavirus.

DURHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education speaks to the audience during the Labour Party Deputy Leadership hustings at the Radisson Blu Hotel on February 23, 2020 in Durham, England. Ian Murray, Angela Rayner, Richard Burgon, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Dawn Butler are vying to become Labour's deputy leader following the departure of Tom Watson, who stood down in November last year. The ballot will open to party members and registered and affiliated supporters on February 24. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner at a Labour Party deputy leadership hustings in Durham in February. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

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“Stop it now, you were absent when floods devastated communities, now daft #coronavirus stories, go back to hiding in fridges!”

A Number 10 spokesperson would not comment specifically on Angela Rayner’s comments but told Yahoo News UK: “The PM visited a hospital where there were coronavirus patients being treated and he met staff who were treating them.”

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Elsewhere in the world, people are rejecting handshakes and refusing kisses in an attempt to reduce the spread of the disease.

A video has been widely shared showing people in China tapping their feet against one another – dubbed the "Wuhan Shake" – as a hands-free greeting.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference at 10 Downing Street in London on March 3, 2020 to unveil government planning to combat coronavirus. - The government published their plans for measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus in the UK. (Photo by Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The prime minister said he was still shaking people's hands. (Getty)

Prime ministers usually have an audience with the Queen each Wednesday where they typically shake the monarch's hand.

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Johnson is also due to host a reception in Downing Street later this week.

Earlier, 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".