London, Nov 16 (PTI) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said that he feels “great” as he remains in self-isolation at 10 Downing Street here after coming in contact with an MP who later tested positive for COVID-19.
In a video message posted on Twitter, 56-year-old Johnson -- who had spent three nights in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at St. Thomas' Hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in April -- said that he must now “follow the rules” but stressed that he would continue to work from home and continue speaking to the nation by “means of electronic communication”.
The fact that he had been contacted by the National Health Service (NHS) to self-isolate was a sign that the system was working well, he said.
“The good news is that the NHS Test and Trace is working ever more efficiently. The bad news is that they pinged me and I’ve got to self-isolate because somebody I was in contact with a few days ago has developed COVID.
“It doesn’t matter that we were doing social distancing, doesn’t matter that I feel great and that I have had the disease and am bursting with antibodies. We have got to interrupt the spread of the disease and one of the ways is by self-isolating,” the prime minister said.
In his characteristic style, he struck a note of optimism in his video message as he referred to the UK now having “two gigantic boxing gloves with which to wallop our foe into submission” in the form of the government’s mass lateral flow rapid turnaround testing programme and the prospect of a vaccine, “perhaps even before Christmas”.
“I am confident that together we can beat this disease,” Johnson said.
His message came a day after Downing Street confirmed that Johnson would have to self-isolate himself after he had a meeting lasting about 35 minutes with some members of Parliament (MPs) at his office in 10 Downing Street on Thursday morning, including with Lee Anderson — the MP for Ashfield in the East Midlands region of England.
Anderson later developed symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19 and posted on his Facebook page that he was self-isolating.
“On Friday, I lost my sense of taste at the same time my wife had a bad headache. I had no cough, no fever and felt well. We both had a test on Saturday and the result came in Sunday morning,” said the Conservative Party MP.
“My wife and I both tested positive. I feel absolutely fine and my biggest concern is my wife who is in the shielded group. But we are both feeling good,” he said.
Johnson’s spokesperson said that he had been notified by the NHS Test and Trace that he has to self-isolate himself as he was a contact of someone who has tested positive. Under the NHS Test and Trace rules, his self-isolation should end by November 26 but his spokesperson stressed that he plans to continue working as usual.
“He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The PM is well and does not have any symptoms of COVID-19,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said.
This was already shaping up to be one of Johnson’s busiest weeks in office when he had to unleash some fresh momentum at No. 10 Downing Street following days of very public bitter power struggles that ended in the unceremonious exit of his top aide Dominic Cummings.
The negotiations with the European Union (EU) over a post-Brexit trade agreement are also at an extremely crucial stage as the December 31 deadline of the end of the transition period looms.
Downing Street has insisted that all that work will carry on as normal and that they are speaking with the parliamentary authorities to discuss what options are available for Johnson to take part remotely in any important parliamentary business.
According to Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, the contagion has so far infected more than 54 million people and killed over 1.3 million others globally. In the UK, it has claimed over 50,000 lives and infected more than 1,372,000 people. PTI AK CPS AKJ CPS