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Prince William Jokes About ‘Spreading Coronavirus’ at Royal Engagement in Dublin

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Prince William joked about the deadly coronavirus outbreak during a royal visit to Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse in Ireland on Tuesday.

“I bet everyone’s like, ‘I’ve got coronavirus, I’m dying,’ and you’re like, ‘No, you’ve just got a cough,'” the Duke of Cambridge quipped to first responder Joe Mooney, according to video footage of their exchange. He added: “It does seem quite dramatic about coronavirus at the moment. Is it being a little hyped up, do you think, by the media?”

It’s not clear what Mooney said in response. More than 92,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in over 100 countries and at least 3,085 people have died from the infection. The United Kingdom has at least 51 reported cases of coronavirus, according to the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care — one British citizen, a male passenger who had been onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, died in hospital in Japan in February. Ireland, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were visiting, has so far seen one case.

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Coronavirus could potentially “spread extensively,” in the U.K., and it is “more likely than not that the U.K. will be significantly affected,” the Department wrote in its action plan for dealing with the disease.

Prince William’s quips continued during the event. In another video clip, he was heard saying, “By the way, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are spreading coronavirus. Sorry!”

His comments came the same day his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, was seen wearing gloves during an investiture ceremony in what was widely interpreted as a precaution against coronavirus.

The Duke of Cambridge was criticized online for joking about the outbreak, with a #crownavirus hashtag trending. “Just the future king joking about a virus that has killed thousands. Nothing to see here,” wrote one Twitter user.

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Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com