Boris Johnson back to work this morning after coronavirus diagnosis
In an extraordinary turn of events, the Prime Minister was given a midnight diagnosis confirming he has Covid 19 after developing symptoms on Thursday afternoon.
And an hour after Mr Johnson told the public on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed he is also self-isolating after catching the virus.
The two men saw each other in person on Tuesday for the weekly Cabinet meeting and were both in the Commons chamber on Wednesday for Prime Minister’s questions.
It will raise fears the contagion could have spread further at the very heart of the government team leading the response to the killer virus.
The Prime Minister is now confined to the flat above Number 11 and is using the Chancellor’s office to work from.
Staff are leaving him meals and work at his door and knocking to alert him.
Full video conferencing equipment has been installed that will allow Mr Johnson to continue working.
He will continue to lead the 9.30am so-called war cabinet briefing of the most senior ministers and officials leading the response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Daily press conferences updating the nation on the latest developments are expected to continue but will be fronted by other Cabinet ministers until the PM’s seven day isolation is over.
Mr Johnson, 55, broke the news of his diagnosis to the nation with a video posted on social media.
He said: “I want to bring you up to speed on something that’s happening today which is that I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus. That’s to say – a temperature and a persistent cough.
“And, on the advice of the chief medical officer, I’ve taken a test. That has come out positive.
“So I am working from home. I’m 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.”
Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant with their first child, is no longer living in their flat above No 11.
Mr Johnson was tested on the advice of chief medical officer (CMO) Chris Whitty after developing a cough and a temperature.
But his infection raises concerns about the health of other key figures in the battle against the virus, including Professor Whitty himself.
The PM was flanked by the CMO and his chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance at a press conference in Downing Street on Wednesday.
No 10 insisted all guidelines about maintaining a two metre distance were met at all times.
Sir Patrick said the Prime Minister was using “digital tools” to keep leading the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re in the phase now where anyone who gets symptoms should self-isolate, that’s what the Prime Minister did, self-isolated,” he added.
“He’s been tested positive; anyone who gets symptoms should self-isolate.
“And he’s managing meetings using the appropriate digital tools to be able to do that and still running the Government’s response to coronavirus.”
Mr Johnson chaired a meeting of his Cabinet on Tuesday and although most ministers contributed by video link, Mr Hancock was one of only three people to physically take part, along with Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and the CMO.
The Health Secretary said in a video message that he will be self-isolating until next Thursday.
“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,” he added.
Mr Hancock said a “massive thank you to everybody in the NHS, working in social care and right across the board on the response”.
“I’ll be continuing to do everything I can to get our carers the support that they need. And I’ll be doing that from here but with no less gusto.”
“And then from next Thursday, once I’m out of self-isolation and I hope with no more symptoms, then I’ll be able to get back stuck in and into the office where necessary.
“But the truth is that all of us can learn that working from home can be really, really effective
On Wednesday, Mr Johnson appeared at the Despatch Box in the Commons chamber for the final session of Prime Minister’s questions before Parliament broke up for a month.
Home Secretary Priti Patel and Chief Whip Mark Spencer sat either side of the premier but left space between them.
Mr Johnson continued to work on Thursday evening while waiting for the results of the test, holding a call with businesses involved in the manufacturer of ventilators.
Any new companies offering to make ventilators would have to have their prototype checked, Downing Street said.
The PM’s spokesman said: “There is a real cross-Government effort going on to get these ventilators online as soon as possible.
“The PM spoke with industry again. We are doing all we can to make progress.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak does not have any symptoms and is working from home at his family residence.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among politicians from across the political divide to offer well wishes to Mr Johnson.
He said: “I wish the Prime Minister a speedy recovery and hope his family are safe and healthy. Coronavirus can and does affect anyone. Everyone be safe. Our own health depends on everybody else.”
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