Boris Johnson keeps his grip as he shakes hands with visiting Maltese president

Boris Johnson showed no signs of letting the Covid-19 outbreak dissuade him from shaking hands, as he welcomed the Maltese president George Vella with a firm embrace on the steps of Number 10.

Mr Johnson said it was “good to welcome my good friend George” as the pair chatted at the start of a bilateral meeting inside Downing Street.

The Prime Minister previously announced his determination to press ahead with the greeting, despite concerns around the world that touching hands could help spread the disease.

As of Thursday morning, Malta had no reported cases of coronavirus, although nearby Italy is the epicentre of Europe’s outbreak, where at least 100 people have died and more than 3,000 have the Covid-19 illness.

President of Malta at Downing Street
President of Malta at Downing Street

Mr Vella has been in the UK for a whistlestop visit, having met with the Queen on Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson told reporters at a press conference in Downing Street: “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.”