UK on edge as Boris Johnson and health secretary test positive for coronavirus

Screengrab CBS News

Just over an hour after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he has contracted the Chinese virus COVID-19, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that he has also tested positive for the coronavirus.

The news comes on the heels of the revelation that Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, is infected with the disease. The 71-year-old Prince of Wales was tested after displaying mild symptoms — in good health, he had been working from his home on the Balmoral Estate in Scotland amid the global pandemic.

With Johnson and Hancock having held a number of face-to-face meetings over the past week, the bombshell report threatened to “send the government’s response into chaos,” the Daily Mail reported.

There is reportedly rampant speculation over who else might be infected at the highest echelons of the state government. Downing Street insisted there’s no need to test other government officials unless they start displaying symptoms.

Johnson released a video statement informing the country.

“Hi folks I want to bring you up to speed on something that is happening today,” he began. “Which is that I have developed mild symptoms of coronavirus, that is to say a temperature and a persistent cough, and on the advice of the chief medical officer I’ve taken a test.”

“That has come out positive so I am working from home, I am self-isolating,” Johnson continued. “That is 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 fight back against coronavirus.”

Displaying the trademark sunny disposition Brits are known for, the prime minister insisted that they will “beat” the disease as he encouraged everyone to stay at home.

Johnson’s girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, is reportedly pregnant with their first child, but it’s not believed that she is living with the prime minister at his official residence.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen last saw the prime minister over two weeks ago, The Independent reported.

“Her Majesty the Queen remains in good health,” a Palace spokesperson told the U.K. paper. “The Queen last saw the Prime Minister on the 11th of March and is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare.”

Hancock also released a video message, as he extended a “massive thank you” to those working in the National Health Service, which is the state-run healthcare system.

“Fortunately for me, the symptoms so far have been very mild so I’ve been able to carry on with the work driving forward the UK response,” Hancock said.

“I’ll be continuing to do everything I can to get our carers the support that they need. And I’ll be doing that from here but with no less gusto,” he said. “And then from next Thursday, once I’m out of self-isolation and I hope with no more symptoms, then I’ll be able to get back stuck in and into the office where necessary.”

Hancock reminded U.K. citizens “working from home can be really, really effective.”


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