Silence over Boris Johnson coronavirus claim following KGH visit

Prime Minister said he shook hands with people at 'a hospital' where there were coronavirus patients

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 11:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 11:58 am

KGH has declined to comment after Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed he was recently at a hospital where there were coronavirus patients.

Last week the nation's leader secretly visited the Rothwell Road hospital and took time to meet night-shift staff.

Yesterday - hours before Northamptonshire's first coronavirus case was announced - he made a speech on his plans to tackle the virus which has affected tens of thousands of people.

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Kettering General Hospital.

He said: "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 judgment is that washing your hands is the crucial thing."

Where in the county the first coronavirus case is has not yet publicly been made clear, although it is known the patient recently returned from Italy.

Yesterday the Northants Telegraph asked KGH to confirm if it has any cases of coronavirus yet and if so, how many and what action has been taken.

Boris Johnson with staff members on Oakley Ward. Picture: Teresa Brown

We also asked if the Prime Minister was talking about KGH when he mentioned shaking hands at a hospital with coronavirus patients.

A hospital spokesman said they won't be commenting.

Last month the hospital set up a coronavirus pod to isolate anyone who thinks they may have it.

The Prime Minister has been ridiculed on social media after the hospital claim and accused by some of lying.

One Twitter user said: "If #BorisJohnson did shake the hands of people with #Coronavirus, he should now be quarantined for 14 days. There were however no #Coronavirus patients in Kettering hospital."

Another said: "People have been pointing out that there were no #coronavirus patients at Kettering hospital, to which Boris Johnson seems to have been referring. So this "man of the people" boasting was untrue as well as deeply irresponsible."

10 Downing Street has been contacted for comment.

The number of patients affected by coronavirus, also called COVID-19, is nearing 100,000. The UK now has more than 50 confirmed cases.

A worker at RCI in Kettering self-quarantined after a trip to northern Italy, which is the worst-affected area in Europe.

What's the risk of coronavirus in the UK?

The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.

Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.

Symptoms of coronavirus

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

- a cough

- a high temperature

- shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus

- wash your hands with soap and water often. Do this for at least 20 seconds

- always wash your hands when you get home or into work

- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

- put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards

- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell