In the rush to avoid the spread of Coronavirus/Covid-10, the FA’s medics were today praised by the Daily Mail for being ‘ahead of the curve’ when they banned England players from shaking hands with players during the last international break – in November.

CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 02: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal (9) celebrates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he scores his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Arsenal FC at Cardiff City Stadium on September 2, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES – SEPTEMBER 02: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal (9) celebrates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he scores his team’s third goal during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Arsenal FC at Cardiff City Stadium on September 2, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Now, when I first read the piece in the Daily Mail I was struck by how stupid it was to tell people to fist bump instead of handshake as if they involved different body parts, but now something else is pricking at my brain.

Daily Mail, Saturday 7 March 2020

It says above ‘to prevent the spread of infection’ which is, of course, a very good idea.

Around 80% of viruses are spread by touch and, as I learned recently in Bill Bryson’s most excellent new book, The Body, that I haven’t stopped blathering on about since Christmas, you’re more likely to pick a virus up with your hands than if an infected person sticks their tongue in your mouth.

So, hand-washing and unnecessary touching is a good thing, on that I think we can all agree.

But what is curious to me is why the FA’s medics started to issue this information in November when it has been known that our hands are generally disgusting for, well, years. Coincidence? Probably. It just struck me as odd.

Then again, coincidences tend to be exactly that which is why they catch our attention.

For the record, England played Montenegro on 14 November 2019 and Kosovo on 17 November. It was not until 31 December that the World Health Organisation learned of a ‘mysterious pneumonia sickening dozens in China,’ and not until 11 January 2020 that China reported its first death from the virus.