As published on fnlondon.com, Friday 27 March, 2020.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is now self-isolating in Downing Street.
In a message on Twitter on 27 March, Johnson wrote: “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. Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives.”
Johnson is now among roughly 11,650 people to have contracted the Covid-19 respiratory illness in the UK. Earlier this week the prime minister introduced lockdown measures across the country in a bid to contain the spread of the virus and ease pressure on the National Health Service.
The three-week lockdown limits the amount of time people can spend outside their homes to brief periods of exercise, shop runs for food and medicine and only essential travel to and from work. “Stay at home” has become the cornerstone message of daily coronavirus updates delivered to the British public by Johnson and other senior UK politicians this week.
Johnson reiterated the plea in his Twitter post, in which he also confirmed he would continue to lead the UK's response to the pandemic. In a video address accompanying his tweet, Johnson said: “Be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus.”
UK secretary of state Dominic Raab serves as Johnson's deputy in the ruling Conservative Party and would likely step in if Johnson was unable to perform his duties as prime minister.
Johnson is not the first member of the House of Commons to have tested positive for Covid-19. Earlier in March, the Conservative MP and health minister Nadine Dorries was diagnosed with the illness.
More than half a million people have now become infected with Covid-19 since it emerged in China in late 2019, with almost 25,000 people dying as a result. The US is now the country with the most confirmed cases.
The global economy has been grinding to a halt because of containment measures put in place by governments, with most economists at major financial institutions predicting a deep recession in the months ahead.