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WHO chief hits out at PM after Johnson pictured maskless during hospital visit
10 November 2021, 15:41
A World Health Organisation chief has criticised the Prime Minister, after he was pictured without a face mask during a hospital visit.
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Dr David Nabarro, WHO Special Envoy, pleaded with "every leader" to wear a facemask in indoor settings after Boris Johnson was pictured walking through Hexham General Hospital without one.
The Prime Minister was pictured maskless, walking beside NHS staff members and elbow-bumping nurses who were all wearing blue surgical face masks.
Asked about the pictures, Dr Nabarro said: "We all need to be able to do what we've got to do, regardless of what politics we adopt.
"I'm not sitting on the fence on this one - where you've got large amounts of virus being transmitted, everybody should do everything to avoid either getting the virus or inadvertently passing it on.
"We know that wearing a face mask reduces the risk, we know that maintaining physical distance reduces the risk, we know that hygiene by regular hand-washing and coughing into your elbow reduces the risk.
"We should do it all and we should not rely on any one intervention like vaccination on its own.
"So, please, would every leader be wearing face masks, particularly when in indoor settings.
"This virus is unforgiving and we need to do everything possible to prevent it getting in between us and infecting us."
It comes after Mr Johnson visited the North East hospital instead of attending the Commons debate over the ongoing "sleaze" scandal in Westminster.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth tweeted a "double blow" to the Prime Minister, both for his no-show at the debate and lack of PPE on his visit.
"So not only is Boris Johnson too cowardly to turn up to Parliament to defend the sleazy corrupt government shenanigans of recent days," he tweeted."He’s now irresponsibly parading round a hospital without a mask.
"Patients and NHS staff deserve better than this."
Dr Nabarro also told Sky News: "Perhaps that's the toughest thing about Covid, is that the responses get politicised - in some places if you wear a mask, you're taught to belong to a particular political party.
"That's the most regretful thing about the present situation; we all need to be able to do what we've got to do, regardless of what politics we adopt."
A No 10 spokesman earlier said of his visit to Hexham General Hospital: "The Prime Minister followed the Covid measures that were in place throughout his visit, including wearing a mask in all clinical areas. He also took a PCR test before the visit.
"The hospital trust has issued a statement making clear the PM followed its guidelines."
It is not the first time the Prime Minister has come under fire for not wearing a mask, last week he was pictured maskless at the Cop26 climate change summit sitting alongside 95-year-old environmentalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.