The Queen stops shaking hands as virus spreads globally

 

Britain's Queen Elizabeth has ditched her usual practice of shaking hands with visitors to Buckingham Palace amid the global coronavirus outbreak.

On Tuesday, the 93-year-old monarch was pictured meeting the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and her husband as part of her regular audiences.

Pictures show she greeted the couple from a distance in a decision that was said to be her personal preference in accordance with government advice.

It came after the Queen also wore gloves for an investiture ceremony at the palace on March 3 in the first time in more than a decade.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth meets the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and her husband keeping her distance and without a handshake amid the global coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Getty
Britain's Queen Elizabeth meets the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena and her husband keeping her distance and without a handshake amid the global coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Getty

On Monday UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was told not to shake hands with dignitaries, including the Queen, at a Commonwealth Service to send a message about the importance of hygiene.

There have been 382 cases of coronavirus in the UK with six deaths, in an outbreak that is rapidly escalating across Europe and around the world. At least 128 cases have been confirmed in Australia so far.

England's Health Minister and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been diagnosed with the disease after saying she felt ill last Friday.

She had previously attended a reception at Downing Street and met with hundreds of people and said she was worried about her 84-year-old mother who was staying with her at home.