Prince William, who is on a three-day official visit to Ireland with wife Kate Middleton, was trying to poke fun at himself but ended up making an awkward joke about coronavirus outbreak which has already seen 51 confirmed cases in the UK.

While meeting well-wishers during his Irish tour, Prince William asked a paramedic whether he thought coverage of coronavirus was "being a little hyped up" in the media. "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 asked Joe Mooney, an advance paramedic with the National Ambulance Service.

The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge were talking about the infection while interacting with emergency workers at a reception hosted by Britain's Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett in the Gravity Bar at Dublin's Guinness Storehouse, reports Mirror.​

"Does it seem quite dramatic about coronavirus at the moment? Is it being a little bit hyped up do you think in the media?" the father-of-three further asked.

"By the way, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are spreading coronavirus!" the 37-year-old grimaced in mock horror, adding "Sorry... We're keeping an eye on that, so do tell us if we need to stop."

The comments come at a time when the British prince and his wife are taking advice on the coronavirus threat from Public Health England and the Department of Health while continuing to meet people as usual. The couple shook hands with dozens of people on the first day of their tour and will continue to do so, according to the advice they are being given.

Queen Elizabeth II is also speculated to be taking precautions, as she was wearing seen gloves while presenting honours during an investiture ceremony. But the Buckingham Palace is yet to confirm if the precaution taken by the British monarch was because of the coronavirus spread.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and Prince William ahead of a ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commisions's Tyne Cot Cemetery on July 31 2017 Getty

Meanwhile, fear of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus reached Thomas's Battersea school as well, where William and Kate's children are enrolled. The boarding school in London where Prince George is in Year 2 and Princess Charlotte is in Reception, took preventive measures and sent four pupils to isolation after two of them developed flu-like symptoms on return from a school trip to coronavirus-hit Italy.