Boris Johnson, 57, has faced a backlash this week after he was snapped roaming the corridors of Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland without a face mask on Monday. The Prime Minister appeared to bump elbows and chat to face-covered NHS staff before holding a maskless television interview at the hospital.
Current Government advice on face coverings highlights the need to wear masks “in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, who oversees Hexham Hospital, has since revealed the Prime Minister was only walking along the corridor without a mask for “a very short period of time”.
In their statement, they said: “In response to your communication about the coverage you have seen of the Prime Minister pictured without wearing a face mask at Hexham General Hospital, the Trust would like to assure you that infection prevention and control has always been and continues to be of utmost priority in all of our hospitals and in all other Trust sites.
“Our mask-wearing rules are very clear, and it is important to note that everyone that was part of the official visit to Hexham General Hospital on Monday November 8 were formally advised and reminded of these rules on the day.
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“Information was included in the written programme.
“These rules include information about mask-wearing and other infection prevention and control measures, such as hand-washing, tucking away loose clothing (ties), and having rolled-up sleeves.
“After the Prime Minister left a welcome meeting, he walked along a mezzanine corridor, for a very short period of time, without a mask.
“This brief moment was captured on camera.
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“We hope this helps to clarify the situation and we apologise for any upset this has caused.”
The statement from NHS bosses in Northumbria comes just days after Mr Johnson found himself in hot water at the COP26 summit in Glasgow after he was snapped without a face mask next to the 95-year-old naturalist David Attenborough.