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PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both have coronavirus, they announced today.
They said that they would be working from self-isolation while continuing to lead the government’s fight against the pandemic.
And England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty also said he was self-isolating having developed symptoms.
Hours later, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said it would be “rolling out” testing for staff from next week.
NHS workers have complained that they do not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and what they do have is not efficient.
According to a Guardian report last night, the Department of Health rejected high-level medical advice on the importance of stockpiling in case of a flu epidemic because to do so would be too expensive.
Mr Johnson revealed in a video that NHS medics had tested him at 10 Downing Street on Thursday after he developed mild symptoms, including a persistent cough.
Prince Charles also announced on Wednesday that he has the virus after receiving an NHS test.
At a press conference earlier this month, Mr Johnson downplayed the seriousness of the disease and told journalists that he was continuing to shake hands with “everyone” he meets, including during a recent visit to a hospital where some patients had Covid-19.
Soon after the video of Mr Johnson’s announcement went live, footage emerged of his chief special adviser Dominic Cummings running out of No 10 and along Downing Street. It is not clear whether this was linked to Mr Johnson’s announcement.
Mr Cummings is reported to have backed the “herd immunity” theory on how the virus could be contained.
A meeting on March 12 saw government experts examine modelling of how the disease spreads that was produced by scientists, including professors from Imperial College London.
The modelling predicted that if no action was taken, more than half a million people would die, and that even some limited mitigation efforts would only halve this toll.
According to the Sunday Times, this made Mr Cummings change his mind about herd immunity. Two weeks after the meeting, a nationwide lockdown was announced by the government.
Politicians from across the spectrum have offered their best wishes to the PM.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “I wish the Prime Minister a speedy recovery and hope his family are safe and healthy.
“Coronavirus can and does affect anyone. Everyone be safe. Our own health depends on everybody else.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he hoped Mr Johnson makes a speedy recovery.
“This sadly shows nobody is immune,” he added. “Everybody must follow the advice on social distancing. Non-essential work must not take place. We need to take all measures to isolate if need be.”
Meanwhile, Labour deputy leadership candidate Angela Rayner, who is also self-isolating after developing symptoms, joked: “So me and Boris Johnson having the virus is pure coincidence — honest.”
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