The Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock have both tested positive for Covid-19 as the coronavirus strikes at the heart of the British government.
The chief medical doctor Prof Chris Whitty is also in isolation “with clear symptoms”, following the announcement at the weekend that the head of Public Health England, Duncan Selbie is also self isolating after developing symptoms.
The quartet are the latest high-profile people to test positive for coronavirus and comes just days after it was announced that the Prince of Wales is also infected by the disease.
Johnson confirmed he has the virus on Twitter, saying he had “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. Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives”.
In the video, Johnson said: “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.”
Cabinet concerns over coronavirus
Johnson chaired a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (March 24) which was attended by Hancock, Whitty and other cabinet members, sparking concerns that the virus could spread around Whitehall.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is “working from home” and taking further precautions after joining the prime minister in Downing Street on Thursday night to “Clap for Carers”, joining the nation to show their thanks and support for NHS staff and other key workers working through the outbreak.
Carrie Symonds, Johnson’s fiancée is in self-isolation following the prime minister’s positive test for coronavirus. Symonds, 32, is around six months pregnant and is believed to have left Downing Street “at least ten days ago”.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists updated its guidance on viral infections and added: “Women above 28 weeks’ gestation should be particularly attentive to social distancing and minimising contact with others.”
PM’s diagnosis “a terrible thing” – Trump
Donald Trump described the prime minister’s diagnosis as “a terrible thing” and the US president confirmed he was asked by Johnson to send ventilators to Britain during a telephone conversation with the PM.
The foreign secretary Dominc Raab is expected to take over as caretaker prime minister of Johnson becomes too ill to continue working.
The latest figures show 14,500 positive tests in the UK with the global number of cases predicted to pass 600,000 over night.