U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson got affected by Covid-19
LONDON — Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus, he said in a tweet Friday.
He had developed “mild symptoms” in the last 24 hours and was “self-isolating,” he said. “I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.”
Mr. Johnson hailed the spirit of the British people in his video, saying “we’re going to beat it, and we’re going to beat it together.”
Now, though, he faces the grinding reality of being a coronavirus patient. After he came down with a cough and a high temperature in the late afternoon on Thursday, he consulted Professor Whitty, the chief medical officer, and was tested for the virus. He received the positive result at about midnight.
Mr. Johnson moved from his office to the adjacent building, 11 Downing Street, where the chancellor, Mr. Sunak, normally works. This allows Mr. Johnson to live and work at the same address, since he already occupied the apartment above the chancellor’s office.
That office is equipped with video conference facilities and Mr. Johnson is working normally, a spokesman said. On Friday morning, he took part in a daily emergency cabinet meeting remotely from his new quarters. Mr. Johnson plans to stay in isolation for seven days, with his meals left at the door.
Downing Street gave no information about the whereabouts of Mr. Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child. The couple announced their engagement last month. She is also in isolation, according to a photo she posted on social media.
Among the questions the government will face is how many people Mr. Johnson came into contact with over the last few days.
Many officials had stopped working in Downing Street, participating in meetings through conference calls. But a skeleton staff did still work in the building, and senior officials like Mr. Sunak and Mr. Hancock cycled through, appearing alongside Mr. Johnson at briefings there. Though lawmakers sat farther from each other than normal in Parliament on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr. Johnson was still reasonably close to Mr. Hancock and later to the home secretary, Priti Patel.
Mr. Johnson did not appear at the daily news conference on Thursday, at which Mr. Sunak rolled out the latest plan to protect workers who have lost wages because of the lockdown of the country. Mr. Sunak has not had symptoms of the virus, according to the BBC, and has not been tested.
In recent days, other people who work in Downing Street have begun to isolate themselves after displaying symptoms, but no contact tracing is taking place, officials said. Britain’s testing program has come under criticism in recent days as lagging that of other European countries.
Still, Mr. Johnson’s aides played down the risk to other senior cabinet ministers and officials who have come into contact with him, arguing that the government had observed the advice it offered to the public to keep a distance of two meters, or 6 feet, 6 inches, from other people wherever possible.
As he wrapped up his message to the British public from his new home for the next seven days, Mr. Johnson sounded every inch a convert to restrictive measures.