British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating at his Downing Street residence but says he will still lead the government’s response to the accelerating outbreak.
Johnson, 55, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday, a day after he answered at the prime minister’s weekly question-and-answer session in parliament’s House of Commons chamber, and received the positive test result around midnight.
“I’ve taken a test. That has come out positive,” Johnson said on Friday in a video statement broadcast on Twitter.
“I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus. That’s to say – a temperature and a persistent cough.
“So I am working from home. I’m self-isolating,” Johnson said. “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.”
British health minister Matt Hancock said later on Friday morning that he has also tested positive and is self-isolating at home with mild symptoms.
Johnson is the first leader of a major power to announce a positive test result for coronavirus. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went into isolation earlier this month after his wife tested positive for the virus.
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both been tested, so far with negative results.
Queen Elizabeth last saw Johnson on March 11 and she remains in good health, Buckingham Palace said.
The 93-year-old monarch usually sees the prime minister once a week but has recently conducted the regular audience by telephone.
“The queen last saw the PM on the 11th March and is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare,” a palace spokesman said.
So far, 578 people in the United Kingdom have died after testing positive for coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 11,658.