British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that he has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Johnson said that he developed some symptoms over the past few days, including a temperature and a cough, but fortunately, he does not have more severe symptoms, and will likely not require hospitalization.
The Prime Minister said in a recent statement that he is self isolating in Downing Street, but he will “continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus”.
As Johnson made the announcement, the number of people infected in the UK rose to 14,579 official cases. At least 759 people in the country have lost their lives from the virus.
Johnson is not the only member of the UK government who has the illness. Health Secretary Matt Hancock also announced that he had tested positive for the virus, just after Johnson made his announcement. Hancock is also working from home with mild symptoms.
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.
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020
The Prime Minister had previously come under critisism for his proposed plan of allowing the virus to spread through the population as quickly as possible so people could develop “herd immunity.” However, this plan was quickly dropped following the backlash, when health officials determined that such measures would overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.
Johnson says that he was tested at No 10 by NHS staff, on the personal advice of England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty. His isolation period is only going to be seven days, which is worrying to some experts because the incubation period of the virus has been shown to be much longer than that in some circumstances. Studies have shown that some people who have the virus are contagious for up to an entire month, even if they are not experiencing extreme symptoms.
Now, health officials are working to track down other members of the UK government and parliament who may have come into contact with the Prime Minister. According to the BBC, prime minister’s Brexit negotiator, David Frost, has begun to show symptoms of the virus, and has also gone into isolation.
71-year-old Prince Charles, of Wales, also tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week, and is currently being isolated at his residence at Birkhall, on the Balmoral estate.
However, the palace says that he “otherwise remains in good health,” despite his diagnosis.
There are many other world leaders who are currently in isolation, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Germany’s Angela Merkel, who have not tested positive for the illness, but have come into contact with others who have. There have also been suspicions that the controversial Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro may have also been infected with the virus. He has shown signs of illness at press conferences, but has insisted that he has been tested twice and both tests came back negative. However, he has provided no proof to back up his claims.
The virus has also swept through the Iranian government, taking the lives of multiple high ranking officials and sickening many others. This virus obviously doesn’t discriminate.