Boris Johnson says he has tested positive for coronavirus

PM, health secretary and chief medical officer in self-isolation as UK records 181 more deaths

British prime Minister Boris Johnson has posted on Twitter that he has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating. Video: Twitter/ @BorisJohnson

 

British prime minister Boris Johnson and his health secretary Matt Hancock have tested positive for coronavirus and are self-isolating.

The pair, who are leading the country’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak, both said they have mild symptoms and are continuing to work from their homes.

On Friday afternoon, the UK’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said that he too would self-isolate after experiencing symptoms compatible with Covid-19.

In a Twitter post on Friday morning, Mr Johnson (55) said he was tested after developing a temperature and a persistent cough.

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” he said in a video message.

“I’m working from home and self-isolating and that’s entirely the right thing to do.

“But, be in no doubt that I can continue thanks to the wizardry of modern technology to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus. I want to thank everybody involved and, of course, our amazing NHS staff.”

A further 181 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded in the UK, bringing the total to 759 as of 5pm on Thursday, the department of health said.

There were 14,579 confirmed cases of the virus across the UK on Friday morning, an increase of almost 3,000 in 24 hours.

The department changed how it reports deaths from the virus on Thursday, taking the 24-hour period up to 5pm the previous day. The number of positive tests will continue to be given based on the statistics for 9am each day.

Mr Johnson was pictured outside the prime minister’s residence applauding health workers for their response to the crisis on Thursday evening. He had earlier participated in the prime minister’s question-and-answer session in the House of Commons chamber.

Chancellor

Mr Johnson did not appear at a daily news conference on Thursday, at which the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, rolled out the latest plan to protect workers who have lost wages because of the lockdown of the country. The UK treasury said Mr Sunak, who joined Mr Johnson in applauding the health workers, was not self-isolating.

Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak came out of separate entrances on Downing Street and did not come into close contact on Thursday evening, a Reuters photographer at the scene said.

It was not immediately clear how many Downing Street staff and senior ministers would now need to isolate given that many have had contact with the prime minister over recent days.

It is was also unclear as to whether Mr Johnson is staying with his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, who is several months pregnant, following his positive test.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement that Queen Elizabeth last saw Mr Johnson on March 11th and is following all appropriate advice with regards to her welfare. Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne, tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week but is said to be in good health while self-isolating at his residence in Scotland.

 

Advice

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “After experiencing mild symptoms yesterday, the Prime Minister was tested for coronavirus on the personal advice of England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty.

“The test was carried out in No 10 by NHS staff and the result of the test was positive.

“In keeping with the guidance, the prime minister is self-isolating in Downing Street.

“He is continuing to lead the government’s response to coronavirus.”

In his video, Mr Johnson said the way for the UK to get through the coronavirus crisis was by “applying the measures you have heard so much about” such as social distancing and hand hygiene.

“The more effectively we all comply with those measures, the faster our country will come through this epidemic and the faster we will bounce back,” he said.

“That’s the way we’re going to win. We’re going to beat it, and we’re going to beat it together. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Mr Hancock said in a video message that he would be self-isolating until next Thursday after catching the coronavirus.

“Fortunately for me the symptoms so far have been very mild so I’ve been able to carry on with the work driving forward the UK response,” he said.

“I’ll be continuing to do everything I can to get our carers the support that they need. And I’ll be doing that from here but with no less gusto.”

Stand in

Mr Johnson’s cabinet met on Tuesday with most ministers dialling in. Downing Street had previously confirmed that foreign secretary Dominic Raab would stand in if Mr Johnson was too unwell to continue.

If Mr Raab was also ill, the prime minister has the power to delegate responsibility to any of his ministers, the spokesman added.

Mr Johnson’s confirmation of his positive test prompted messages of support from across the political divide. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “I wish the Prime Minister a speedy recovery and hope his family are safe and healthy. Coronavirus can and does affect anyone. Everyone be safe. Our own health depends on everybody else.”

World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a Twitter post: “Please take good care PM Boris Johnson. I wish you an easy recovery.”

European Council president Charles Michel wrote: “Get well soon Boris Johnson. Europe wishes you a speedy recovery. I believe we’ll win this fight against #COVID19 together. #StrongerTogether.” – Agencies