Boris Johnson may have given up shaking hands more than a week ago, but it is not in the nature or the craft of politicians to keep their physical distance from other people.

In this time of isolation, it seems political leaders are more prone than most to bend the rules, apparently unconvinced that they can lead over video link.

Even as advice was going out from the NHS that we should all keep two metres apart, the prime minister was at his podium briefing the country within what looked like transmission range of his medical and scientific advisers.

 Boris Johnson with Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance at a news conference at 10 Downing Street last week. Photograph: Leon Neal/AP

Only latterly were they moved further apart, as were the journalists asking questions in Downing Street and the MPs in the House of Commons.

Ironically, with most of the population in lockdown, it makes no difference to the rest of us whether MPs and prime ministers are working in Westminster or in the isolation of their study or bedroom at home.

There are no MPs’ surgeries for people to visit and no tours of factories or openings of flower shows. The public will not see them in the flesh. All their business could be done on the phone and through meetings relayed on a computer screen.

But Johnson joins a list of politicians who have tested positive. His health secretary, Matt Hancock, has it too.

Others have tested positive include the Australian home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, the Iranian vice-president Massoumeh Ebtekar and the EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Prince Charles is not a politician, but contact with people is key to his role.

They all have something in common: they are very unused to working and being alone.

They are the people who are more likely to get a virus like Covid-19 – and potentially to spread it too.

The more people mix, the greater the risk they put themselves under. Most of the UK is now limited to social interaction within the home, which means for most just a very few people.

The police now have powers to stop and fine us if we drive out for a walk in the hills, even though we are unlikely to meet anybody else on the journey or while exercising the dog.

But that extreme caution does not appear to apply to those at Westminster.

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