Moments after he delivered a speech telling the public not to shake hands in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Dutch Prime Minister then did so, before realising what he had done and offering an elbow bump to his colleague instead.

"From this moment on, we stop shaking hands," Mark Rutte said during a statement which followed a crisis meeting of government ministers.

"You can do a foot kiss, bump elbows, whatever you want," he said.

"I see all kinds of great variations on shaking hands emerging at schools, but from today we stop shaking hands."

Appearing to forget his own advice, after finishing his speech, Mr Rutte then turned to the head of the infectious diseases department of the National Public Health Institute and the pair shook hands.

The UK government has told people the best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is regular handwashing. Credit: PA

After realising his mistake, an apologetic Mr Rutte said: "Sorry, sorry, we can't do that anymore! Do it again!"

The pair then shared an elbow bump before leaving the stage.

So far coronavirus has killed three people and infected 321 in the Netherlands

The virus has seen Italy put on lockdown overnight, with the whole country told they must adapt to life in isolation in a bid to contain Covid-19.

The Netherlands' leader isn't the only one to be confused about the new protocol on handshakes.

On Monday, Prince Charles was almost caught out after offering his hand out as he met a member of the clergy.

He and Camilla were joining other members of the Royal family for a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in central London.

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was rejected for a handshake by her interior minister over fears of spreading the virus.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer waved Ms Merkel’s hand away at a meeting with migrant groups in Berlin.

Germany has so far reported more than 1,000 cases of Covid-19, making it one of the worst affected countries in Europe.