Coronavirus: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19

Will Taylor
News Reporter

Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus.

The prime minister said he has developed mild symptoms and is self-isolating in Downing Street.

He is continuing to run the government’s handling of the outbreak, he said in a video posted to his Twitter account.

He made his statement shortly before health secretary Matt Hancock, who is overseeing the NHS’s response to the outbreak, confirmed he has also been infected.

The chief medical officer, England’s top doctor who advises the government on its response to coronavirus, has also since said he is displaying symptoms and will self-isolate for a week.

Johnson said: “I have developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus, that’s to say a temperature and persistent cough.

“On the advice of the chief medical officer I have taken a test that has come out positive.

“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.”

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A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “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.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London, on Wednesday. (PA Images)

“The test was carried out in Number 10 by NHS 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.”

Johnson was in Parliament as recently as Wednesday, when he carried out an extended Prime Minister’s Question Time.

MPs observed social distancing in the House of Commons but there has been criticism that Parliament has remained in session over the last two weeks.

Johnson recently announced his engagement to his partner Carrie Symonds, who revealed at the same time that she is pregnant.

The government advises that women who are pregnant are at a higher risk from coronavirus.

It has not been confirmed what arrangements have been made for Symonds.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds are engaged, and Symonds is pregnant with the couple's child. (PA Images)

Earlier this month, Johnson told reporters he was still shaking hands despite the coronavirus.

He has faced criticism for not employing more restrictions on the country to tackle the outbreak earlier.

At first, the government’s public information campaign focused on promoting regular hand washing.

Despite the government later warning the virus was spreading in pubs and restaurants it initially only advised people to stay away from those establishments.

Richard Horton, the editor of medical journal the Lancet, said last night the government had known since January that the coronavirus was coming to the UK but had “wasted February” by not preparing sufficiently.

Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time, he criticised the government for not ramping up testing or ensuring the NHS had enough personal protective equipment.

Boris Johnson took part in applauding the UK's healthcare workers outside Downing Street last night. (PA Images)

“Sorry to say this but it’s a national scandal. We shouldn’t be in this position,” Horton said.

Johnson later instructed pubs, restaurants and clubs to shut when it became clear the advice to stay away was not being followed by everyone, and he closed schools to most children after growing demands from parents and teachers.

He later shifted his position to putting the entire country into lockdown this week, shutting non-essential shops, banning discretionary travel and telling people to only leave the house for exercise, medical reasons and to buy important items.

The global rise in coronavirus cases. (PA Graphics)

There are more than 11,600 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, although the real figure is expected to be higher.

A total of 578 patients who tested positive for the virus have died, it was confirmed yesterday afternoon.

On Thursday, the US overtook China for the highest amount of confirmed coronavirus cases in any country.

It has recorded more than 85,500 positive tests, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, surpassing China’s 81,000 cases and Italy’s 80,000.

There have been more than 127,000 recoveries from the virus globally.