British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus and will now be in self-isolation as he leads the nation’s response to the pandemic.
The U.K. health secretary Matt Hancock also tested positive on Friday, complicating the government’s ongoing response to the crisis.
Johnson said he had developed “mild symptoms” — an elevated temperature and a persistent cough — and took a COVID-19 test on the advice of the U.K.’s chief medical officer.
Queen Elizabeth, who last met Johnson on Mar.11 – more than two week ago – remains in good health, Buckingham Palace confirmed. Her son Prince Charles tested positive earlier this week.
The prime minister said Friday that he is working from home and will be self-isolating following his diagnosis — in line with his government’s own advice to the public. Johnson is expected to stay at his home above 11 Downing St. but insisted that will not impact his ability to lead the country.
“Be in no doubt that, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, I can continue to communicate with all my top team and lead the national fight-back against coronavirus,” he said in a video message to the public.
The pound GBPUSD, +0.3441% initially fell following the news but has recovered most of those losses to trade 0.3% up for the day at $1.2239. The FTSE 100 UKX, -5.86% has extended its losses since the Prime Minister’s diagnosis.
Just hours later the U.K. health secretary Matt Hancock revealed he had also tested positive, with mild symptoms, and would be working from home and self-isolating.
The government appointed Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as the “designated survivor” earlier this week, in the event Johnson were to become too ill to lead.
Johnson, 55, will have to isolate from his pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds. Pregnant women have been advised to be “particularly stringent” in following social distancing measures. The daily public briefing, in which Johnson has been flanked by medical experts and cabinet ministers, will change and Johnson is not expected to attend in the coming days.
Johnson will self-isolate, living and working from No. 11 Downing Street, which has been sealed off from No.10. Food will be left outside the door for the former Mayor of London, the BBC reported.
The prime minister joined a national round of applause for the country’s National Health Service workers and care givers last night, clapping outside No. 10 Downing alongside the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
Reuters reported via Treasury sources on Friday that Sunak, a prominent figure in recent weeks as he has unveiled a number of economic packages to protect businesses and workers, isn’t self-isolating.
Aside from Sunak, Johnson has been in close proximity to a number of other top officials leading the country’s response to the pandemic, which may lead to more testing and certainly more concern inside No. 10.
In recent days, the government has ramped up restrictive social measures in a bid to slow the spread of the virus; urging people to stay at home; and closing pubs, restaurants and other social venues.
All nonessential retailers have been shut as Britain observes a national lockdown.