PM Boris Johnson and Health Secretary both self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus
The Prime Minister said he will continue to lead the “national fightback” against the virus despite being forced to self-isolate.
The 55-year-old PM said he had mild symptoms – including a high temperature and persistent cough – and will work from his flat in Number 11 for the next week.
Nearly two hours after Mr Johnson announced he had tested positive for Covid-19, Mr Hancock tweeted that he too had mild symptoms and was working from home and self-isolating.
He said: “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.”
Mr Johnson 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.
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.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman told a Westminster briefing that the PM dialled into the daily “war cabinet” meeting from Number 11, and will continue to do so while he is self-isolating.
“He will do the same things but that will be done exclusively via teleconferencing on his part,” the spokesman said.
However, Mr Johnson will not appear at Friday’s press conference.
Meals and work will be left outside the PM’s flat, while the doors between Number 10 and Number 11 have been closed off to all other staff who work in the building.
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.
– The US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 85,500 positive tests. President Donald Trump said it was “a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing”.
– 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.
– The managing director of Iceland supermarket said “healthy people” should be using stores to free up delivery slots for the elderly and the vulnerable.
– UK supermarkets said they will use a government database of 1.5 million vulnerable shoppers to help prioritise delivery slots.
– Four medics working in English hospitals have set up a crowdfunding page to raise £200,000 for personal protective equipment (PPE) after saying stocks are not enough. NHS England has ordered a rapid review of PPE.
– Labour MP 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.
On Thursday evening, the Prince of Wales joined millions of people around the UK who emerged from their homes to applaud NHS staff working on the front line.
Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis also clapped to thank healthcare staff “working tirelessly”.
A tweet from the NHS account said: “That was emotional.”
The national gesture came a few hours after the Department of Health announced a total of 578 people who tested positive for coronavirus in the UK had died as of 5pm on Thursday.
At the moment, some 4,300 coronavirus patients are in hospital, including around 2,000 in London.
On Thursday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a package of support which which will see the Government give millions of self-employed people a grant worth up to £2,500 a month.
Mr Sunak said the scheme, which will be open for at least three months, will cover 80% of a self-employed person’s average monthly profits.
But it may not be available until June and will only be available to those who have a tax return for 2019, meaning the newly self-employed will be ineligible.
Mr Sunak’s scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Up to 3.8 million people will qualify for support, with average monthly payments expected to be £940 per person.
On Friday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said former HMRC workers should be brought back in by the Government to ensure payments are available for the self-employed before June.
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