Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (left) speaks past director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Control at RIVM Jaap van Dissel in The Hague, Netherlands, on Monday, after a crisis meeting on the spread of the novel coronavirus. AFP
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had just gone on live TV to tell the country's 17 million residents to stop shaking hands to help combat coronavirus when he immediately broke the new rule.
"From now on we stop shaking hands," he said during a Monday evening news conference. "You can foot-tap or elbow-bump, or whatever you can come up with. ..but from today on we are going to stop shaking hands."
Minutes later Rutte turned and enthusiastically shook the hand of Jaap van Dissel, the head of the Dutch Centre for Infectious Disease Control who was also giving the press conference.
Van Dissel pointed out Rutte's mistake.
"Sorry, sorry! No, that's not allowed! Let's do that again," Rutte said, breaking into a laugh.
The Netherlands had reported 321 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Monday.
Testing facilities in Amsterdam were this week the first to start using the SpiroNose, a machine that requires a person to breathe into it to indicate a possible coronavirus infection within a minute.
“Parliament has given me a serious message and I will try my very best to win back confidence,” Rutte told reporters after the debate. It was not clear when and in what form government formation talks would resume.
The coronavirus pandemic has turned a whimsical idea into perhaps a window into a dystopian future where a human touch may make people cringe with fear, and a waiter clearing the table sends a customer tense with stress - only to be relieved by a soothing brush with plastic.
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