Boris Johnson willing to self-isolate if necessary after Alok Sharma fell ill with coronavirus symptoms

JOE MURPHY
via REUTERS

Boris Johnson is willing to go back into coronavirus isolation for 14 days if instructed, Number 10 admitted today after Business Secretary Alok Sharma fell ill with symptoms of the disease .

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr Johnson will obey if told to isolate again by test and trace officials, even though he has had the disease already .

Mr Sharma spent 45 minutes in a meeting in the Cabinet room with the PM and Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday, No 10 revealed. But the spokesman said the meeting was socially distanced, with the trio sitting two metres apart and said that handshakes would not normally be exchanged.

Asked if Mr Johnson would go back into isolation if asked, No 10 stressed that the question was hypothetical but agreed: “We would follow the advice which is given by the medical experts.”

Mr Sharma was visibly taken ill while giving a speech in the Commons on Wednesday during a second reading debate on the Insolvency Bill. He rubbed his face and eyes and looked tired, prompting former Labour leader Ed Miliband to hand him a glass of water.

His spokeswoman said he had had a temperature and a headache, which are possible symptoms of Covid-19 but was able to work from home this morning. He is waiting for the results of a test.

Alok Sharma, pictured in the Commons, has had a coronavirus test and is awaiting results (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

Downing Street said that, if the test is positive, test and trace officials will question Mr Sharma about his contacts with other people and then get in touch with anyone who needs to take action. The guidelines that contact tracers follow say a close contact counts if two people are just two metres apart for 15 minutes or at closer quarters for a briefer period.

The PM’s spokesman said his understanding was that Tuesday’s meeting was socially-distanced and said being in a room with a carrier did not necessarily count as a close contact. “It will be for test and trace to speak with the Secretary of State and find out the nature of his contacts,” said the spokesman.

“I’m stressing to you that that particular meeting was socially distanced. The Secretary of State will go through the test and trace process in the proper way.”

It would be disruptive and embarrassing for Mr Johnson to have to go back into isolation just four weeks after getting back to work from his serious brush with Covid-19 that saw him rushed to intensive care at St Thomas’s Hospital.

Mr Sharma’s spokeswoman told the Standard he was up and working today. “He is in good spirits, talking to his team and chairing internal calls,” she said. “He had a temprature and a headache last night. We are waiting for the test result.”

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