Britain’s Prince William has joked with healthcare workers about “spreading” the coronavirus, on the first evening of his three-day visit to Ireland.
The Duke of Cambridge made the comments on Tuesday while meeting emergency workers at a reception in Dublin hosted by Britain’s ambassador to Ireland.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and his partner, Matthew Barrett, in Dublin on March 3, 2020.
Speaking to Joe Mooney, an advance paramedic with the National Ambulance Service, William quipped: “I bet everyone’s like ‘I’ve got coronavirus, I’m dying,’ and you’re like ‘no, you’ve just got a cough.'”
According to the UK’s PA Media news agency, the prince, who is second in line to the throne, also questioned whether media coverage of the infection was excessive.
“It does seem quite dramatic about coronavirus at the moment. Is it being a little hyped up, do you think, by the media?” he said.
In another video clip from the event the duke was heard saying: “By the way, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are spreading coronavirus, Sorry. We’re keeping an eye on that, so do tell us if we need to stop.”
According to the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, a total of 16,659 people have been tested for the coronavirus in the UK, of whom 85 have been confirmed as positive.
William’s remarks came after it emerged that he and the duchess are following guidance from Public Health England on the coronavirus threat and that meant “business as usual” for now.
The royal couple shook hands with dozens of people on the first day of their tour, PA reported.
Earlier Tuesday, William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, was pictured wearing gloves at an investiture ceremony, prompting speculation about whether it was a precaution against the outbreak.
— TIME (@TIME) March 4, 2020