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Coronavirus: Boris Johnson Self-Isolating After Testing Positive

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Mahmoud Abudeif, Mar 27, 2020.

  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

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    The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating.

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    In a video message recorded shortly after he remotely chaired the regular early-morning Covid-19 “war cabinet” today, the PM said that he had been suffering from a temperature and a persistent cough and had been advised to take a test by chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

    Mr Johnson said that he was working from home and would continue to “lead the national fightback against coronavirus”.

    It is understood that his partner Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, is not undertaking self-isolation with him in the flat they share above 11 Downing Street, but is staying elsewhere.

    Mr Johnson is believed to be the first major world leader to test positive for the virus. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has been designated to take up the reins of power if the prime minister is incapacitated, but Mr Johnson’s spokesman said that had not so far been necessary as his symptoms were mild and he was “getting on with the job”.

    Mr Johnson’s diagnosis will raise wider concerns because he has been in contact over recent days and weeks with many of those at the forefront of the UK’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, including Prof Whitty, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance and health secretary Matt Hancock, as well as other senior members of the cabinet.

    In a message on his Twitter feed, the PM said: “Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.

    “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives.”

    The prime minister was last seen in public on Thursday evening when he emerged at the famous black door of 10 Downing Street to join in the national Clap for Our Carers display of support for NHS workers. He was joined by chancellor Rishi Sunak, and the pair observed social distancing advice to keep at least two metres apart.

    Mr Johnson spoke at the regular 10 Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, but Thursday’s conference was led instead by the chancellor, who announced a package of assistance for self-employed workers. Downing Street said that Mr Johnson will not be able to take part in the daily conferences while he is self-isolating.


    Mr Johnson is known to have been in contact over recent weeks with the Prince of Wales, who has also tested positive for coronavirus. The pair met at a Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey on 9 March. Imperial College scientist Neil Ferguson was also diagnosed with coronavirus days after visiting 10 Downing Street.

    His spokesman said it had been a “significant period of time” since the PM met the Queen face-to-face, as their weekly audiences were conducted by telephone for at least the last fortnight.

    It is not clear at this point how Mr Johnson contracted the illness, though it is known that other members of Downing Street staff had previously self-isolated because they were showing symptoms.

    His official spokesman said that he noticed symptoms on Thursday afternoon, was tested in 10 Downing Street and received the results at around midnight last night and immediately went into self isolation

    The spokesman declined to comment on where Ms Symonds was staying, but said that the medical advice in Mr Johnson’s case was that he should self-isolate for seven days.

    The seven-day guidance applies only to people living alone, while those sharing their homes with family members are told to self-isolate for 14 days, to give time to be sure whether others have caught the infection from them.

    “The prime minister of course follows all of the guidelines which have been issued by Public Health England in full, and his circumstance is such that he will be required to self-isolate for seven days,” said the spokesman.

    Daily Telegraph journalist Camilla Tominey, a friend of Carrie’s, said Ms Symonds had moved into the couple’s four-bedroom home in Camberwell, south London, some days ago.

    Ms Tominey told ITV’s This Morning: “She’s in Camberwell with Dilyn the dog so she will not have any contact with the prime minister over the last few days.”

    Ms Symonds, whose baby is due in the early summer, is expected to sit out her partner’s self-isolation in Camberwell, where she will face an anxious wait to see whether she has herself caught the virus, as sufferers are believed to be contagious for several days before showing symptoms.

    In order to allow Mr Johnson to continue working, the chancellor’s residence at 11 Downing Street has been turned over in its entirety to serve as the PM’s workplace, with Mr Sunak moving out to other premises.

    Video conferencing facilities have been installed in the downstairs office and study being used by the PM in No 11 and doors joining the building with no 10 next door have been closed off.

    All staff working with the PM are observing the advice to maintain two metres’ distancing from him, and meals are being left outside his door for him to collect.

    The weekly cabinet meeting took place by video call for the first time ever on Tuesday, with only Mr Johnson, Mr Hancock, Prof Whitty and cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill – the country’s most senior civil servant – attending in person.

    Mr Johnson’s spokesman said stringent efforts were being made to ensure that the PM did not pass on the infection to colleagues.

    “Here in No 10, we’ve been observing the advice on social distancing,” he said. “You will have seen the images released of cabinet, where we have wherever possible used video-conferencing. You will have seen the PM ensuring he was a safe distance from colleagues when taking part in press conferences.

    “From the moment he had symptoms, he took steps to make sure he wasn’t in close contact with anyone. He did really want to take part in clapping NHS staff, it was something he felt was important. But in taking part in that national moment, he ensured he didn’t come into any form of close contact with anyone.

    “He stood outside No 10 at a very significant distance from the the chancellor and he took part in the applause and then immediately after that he placed himself in self-isolation.”

    In his video message, Mr Johnson said: “Hi folks. I want to bring you up to speed with something that’s happening today, which is that I have developed mild symptoms of coronavirus – that is to say, a temperature and a persistent cough.

    “On the advice of the chief medical officer, I have taken a test that has come out positive, so I am working from home. I am self-isolating and that’s entirely the right thing to do.

    “But be in no doubt I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team and lead the national fightback against coronavirus.”

    Mr Johnson added: “I want to thank everybody involved, above all our amazing NHS staff. It was very moving last night to join in that national clap for the NHS.

    “But it is not just the NHS, it is our police, our social care workers, teachers, everybody who works in schools, DWP staff.

    “It is an amazing national effort by public services, but also by every member of the British public who is volunteering – an incredible response, 600,000 people have volunteered to take a part in a great national effort to protect people from the consequences of coronavirus.

    “I want to thank you, I want to thank everybody who is working to keep this country going through this epidemic.

    “And we will get through it and the way we are going to get through it is, of course, by applying the measures you will have heard so much about.

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

    “Thank you to everybody who is doing what I’m doing – working from home to stop the spread of the virus from household to household.

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

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