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Boris Johnson and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for coronavirus

Johnson said he would still lead the ‘national fightback’ against Covid-19.

File image: Boris Johnson and UK Health Minister Matt Hancock visiting Bassetlaw District General Hospital in November while on the campaign trail.
File image: Boris Johnson and UK Health Minister Matt Hancock visiting Bassetlaw District General Hospital in November while on the campaign trail.
Image: Christopher Furlong/PA

Updated Mar 27th 2020, 4:25 PM

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are self-isolating after they tested positive for coronavirus.

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

It came as the number of people to have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus topped 750.

Johnson, who has a high temperature and persistent cough, said he would still lead the “national fightback” against the virus from his flat above Number 11.

The 55-year-old noticed that he had mild symptoms on Thursday afternoon and received the test results at midnight, Downing Street said.

His pregnant partner Carrie Symonds is not believed to be with the PM, and is reportedly isolating alone in Camberwell, south London, with the couple’s dog, Dilyn.

Johnson and Hancock have been working closely with the country’s top medics, including chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Professor Whitty confirmed this afternoon that he, too, was now self-isolating after experiencing symptoms. 

“After experiencing symptoms compatible with COVID-19 last night, in line with the guidance, I will be self-isolating at home for the next seven days,” Professor Whitty wrote on Twitter. 

“I will be continuing to advise the Government on the medical response to Coronavirus, supported by my deputies,” he said. 

Tweet by @Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives Source: Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives/Twitter

In a video message posted to Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “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.

Hancock tweeted: “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.”

A spokesman for the Chancellor said Rishi Sunak has not had any symptoms and therefore has not been tested for coronavirus and is not self-isolating.

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has not been tested for coronavirus as he has not displayed symptoms of the virus, his wife Sarah Vine said on Twitter.

Earlier in the week it was announced that the Prince of Wales was also suffering “mild symptoms” of the disease.

On Thursday night Charles was seen for the first time since testing positive.

Clarence House posted a video in their Instagram Stories of heir to the throne Charles joining in with the round of applause for the NHS from Birkhall, his private home on the Balmoral estate in Scotland.

Johnson’s positive test was announced as:

  • The Department for Health said a total of 759 people had died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus as of 5pm on 26 March.
  • Firefighters have agreed to deliver food and medicine, drive ambulances and retrieve bodies during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Police began fining people breaching coronavirus lockdown rules, less than 24 hours after new laws were brought into force.
  • GP Habib Zaidi, 76, who died at Southend Hospital in Essex, is feared to have become the first doctor in the UK to have died after contracting coronavirus.
  • Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has apologised for “ill-judged and poorly timed” emails after the businessman faced fierce criticism when he tried to claim Sports Direct was an essential operator for keeping the nation fit.
  • UK supermarkets said they will use a Government database of 1.5 million vulnerable shoppers to help prioritise delivery slots.
  • Labour deputy leadership candidate Angela Rayner announced on Twitter that she is self-isolating after suffering symptoms, while Duncan Selbie, the chief executive of Public Health England, is also self-isolating with symptoms.

Jeremy Corbyn wished Johnson a “speedy recovery” and said he hoped the PM’s “family are safe and healthy”.

“Coronavirus can and does affect anyone. Everyone be safe. Our own health depends on everybody else,” the outgoing Labour leader added.

On Thursday night Johnson applauded the NHS outside Downing Street a couple of metres away from the Chancellor.

The meeting of his Cabinet took place remotely on Tuesday with ministers using Zoom video conferencing.

Downing Street has previously confirmed that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would stand in if Johnson was too unwell to continue.

If Raab was also ill, the PM has the power to delegate responsibility to any of his ministers.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed the Queen last saw Johnson just over two weeks ago.

He said: “Her Majesty the Queen remains in good health. The Queen last saw the Prime Minister on March 11 and is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare.”

Their following meeting, held on March 18, was conducted via telephone as were their subsequent conversations.

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