Johnson confirmed the news in a tweet, saying he had developed mild symptoms, including a temperature and a persistent cough, and on the advice of the country’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty had been tested. As a result of the positive diagnosis, he is now self-isolating and working from home with his staff via video, but will continue to lead the country as it navigates the crisis, Johnson added.
Matt Hancock, the UK’s health secretary, also confirmed today that he has the virus. Hancock tweeted a message saying that, like Johnson, he has only mild symptoms and is isolating.
On Wednesday, UK royal Prince Charles, the next in line to the throne, tested positive for COVID-19. He is said to be displaying mild symptoms and in good health.
Johnson becomes one of the first heads of state to contract the virus. Prince Albert of Monaco tested positive last week, as did Nicola Zingaretti, who runs Italy’s Italian Democratic Party. Canadian premier Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and Begoña Gómez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, also have confirmed cases. Other politicians who have tested positive include he European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, and French culture minister Franck Riester. In Iran, at least 24 members of parliament have contracted the virus.
The UK entered the lockdown phase of containment this week, with the government mandating that all citizens stay at home unless absolutely necessary, barring shopping for food and one piece of outdoor exercise per day. Johnson has faced criticism for being slow to implement the measures, with some prominent figures suggesting a quicker reaction would have been more effective at stemming the spread.
The country has 11,658 confirmed cases of the virus, with 578 deaths, at the time of writing.