UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health minister test positive for coronavirus

He will continue to lead the government via video conference call.

March 27, 2020, 10:16 AM

LONDON -- The prime minister of the U.K., Boris Johnson, and the most senior lawmaker in charge of the country's health service have tested positive for coronavirus after developing mild symptoms.

In a video posted on his official Twitter page, the prime minister said he was tested for the illness after suffering a high temperature and a persistent cough, and will now be self-isolating. Johnson will continue to lead the government via video-conference calls.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also announced that he too has tested positive for coronavirus and will continue working from home while he self-isolates.

"After experiencing mild symptoms yesterday, the Prime Minister was tested for coronavirus on the personal advice of England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty," a Downing Street spokesperson said. "The test was carried out in No 10 by [National Health Service] staff and the result of the test was positive. In keeping with the guidance, the Prime Minister is self-isolating in Downing Street."

"He is continuing to lead the government's response to coronavirus," the spokesperson added.

PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives his daily COVID 19 press briefing at Downing Street on March 22, 2020 in London.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives his daily COVID 19 press briefing at Downing Street on March 22, 2020 in London.
Ian Vogler/Getty Images, FILE

The diagnoses come just days after Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. Buckingham Palace released a statement saying that the Queen was in "good health" and is "is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare." She last had contact with the prime minister on March 11.

The prime minister was adamant that he would continue to be able to lead the country while working from home.

"But be in no doubt I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus," he said in a video address.

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Johnson also paid tribute to the staff of the U.K.'s National service and the more than 600,000 volunteers from the British public who have signed up to assist health workers to fight the spread of coronavirus.

"I want to thank everybody who's working to keep our country going through this epidemic," he said. "And we will get through it… So thank you to everybody who's doing what I'm doing, working from home, to stop the spread of the virus from household to household."

The news that Johnson has tested positive comes towards the end of one of the most dramatic weeks in British history. On Monday, the prime minister declared a "moment of national emergency" – as he announced that across the U.K. the public could only leave the house for one form of daily exercise and essential shopping, while gatherings of more than two people have been banned.

Cases of the novel coronavirus have been steadily rising in the country, with 11,816 cases confirmed so far and 578 deaths attributed to the virus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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