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Friday, 27 March 2020

Now Matt Hancock tests positive for coronavirus: Health Secretary confirms he has killer virus TOO - just over an hour after Boris Johnson revealed he has the disease

  • Boris Johnson announced that he has tested positive for coronavirus as the outbreak spreads across the UK 
  • Prime Minister insisted he will still lead UK's response to the crisis thanks to 'wizardry of modern technology'
  • Mr Johnson took part in applause for NHS staff from Downing Street last night and was in Commons for PMQs
  • Bombshell news will raise fears that other politicians and senior officials will have been infected as well 
  • The premier will self-isolate for seven days in his flat above No11 Downing Street and he will work from there
  • But No10 insisted no other ministers need to self-isolate despite guidance for whole households to do so 
  • Mr Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds pregnant and thought to have been following guidance on self-isolation
Coronavirus arrived at the heart of power today as Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock dramatically announced they are suffering from the disease.
The bombshell new threatens to send the government's response into chaos, with speculation rampant over who else might be infected at the highest echelons of the state. 
The politicians are believed to have carried out a slew of face-to-face meetings over the past week. But Downing Street insists there is no need for other ministers of officials to get checked unless they start displaying symptoms. 
The drama kicked off this morning when Mr Johnson declared he had coronavirus.  Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty advised him to to get a test after he developed a temperature and cough yesterday afternoon.
The 55-year-old insisted he only has 'mild' symptoms', and will be continuing to lead the national response over video-conference. The PM will stay in his flat in No11 - from where he chaired a meeting of the 'war Cabinet' this morning - and aides will leave meals and work outside the door.  
Within hours Mr Hancock then revealed he also has the virus. 'I've tested positive. Thankfully my symptoms are mild and I'm working from home & self-isolating,' he tweeted. Mr Hancock had been expected to appear at the daily government press briefing this evening, but Michael Gove is now likely to fill in.  
Despite the government's own guidance saying people must self-isolate for 14 days if anyone in their 'household' develops symptoms, no senior figures - such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak who was with the PM last night or chief aide Dominic Cummings - are thought to be going into isolation. Mr Cummings was seen making a hasty exit from Downing Street today carrying a rucksack.  
Mr Johnson's pregnant partner Carrie Symonds is believed to be in self-isolation, although it is not known when they last saw each other or if she has been checked. 
In a video, Mr Johnson said: 'Hi folks I want to bring you up to speed on something that is happening today 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 have taken a test. 
'That has come out positive so I am working from home, I am self isolating. 
'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.'   
Downing Street has previously said that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will fill in if the PM is incapacitated, although there is little sign that he has stopped working. 
In another frantic day of developments in the battle against coronavirus: 
  • A council is facing a furious backlash after targeting members of the public with drones, as lawyers warned that police are 'unlawfully' trying to restrict people travelling to isolated spots to exercise and walk their dogs;
  • There are demands for the government to go further to help millions of self-employed after Mr Sunak admitted a bailout for income support will not be up and running until June;
  • There are fears the outbreak is accelerating after the declared UK death toll rose by 113 to 578 yesterday - the steepest increase yet;
  • Buckingham Palace has said the Queen remains in 'good health' and has not seen the PM since March 11; 
  • GP Habib Zaidi, 76, who died at Southend Hospital in Essex, is feared to have become the first doctor in the UK to have died after contracting coronavirus;
  • Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has apologised for 'ill-judged and poorly timed' emails after the businessman faced fierce criticism when he tried to claim Sports Direct was an essential operator for keeping the nation fit;
  • UK supermarkets said they will use a government database of 1.5 million vulnerable shoppers to help prioritise delivery slots.
  • It has emerged an email mix-up meant the UK did not participate in an EU scheme for sourcing more ventilators quickly;
  • Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has announced she is self-isolating after coming down with coronavirus symptoms that 'gradually' increased; 
Pregnant Carrie Symonds is believed to be in self-isolation after her fiancee Boris Johnson fell ill with coronavirus (pictured together on March 9 at Westminster Abbey)
Pregnant Carrie Symonds is believed to be in self-isolation after her fiancee Boris Johnson fell ill with coronavirus (pictured together on March 9 at Westminster Abbey)


Within hours of the news from Mr Johnson, Matt Hancock revealed he has also tested positive for the virus
Within hours of the news from Mr Johnson, Matt Hancock revealed he has also tested positive for the virus

Boris Johnson was outside No10 last night applauding NHS workers who are combating the virus, in a national show of appreciation - but kept his distance from Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Boris Johnson was outside No10 last night applauding NHS workers who are combating the virus, in a national show of appreciation - but kept his distance from Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Boris Johnson insisted he has 'mild' symptoms', and will be continuing to lead the national response over video-conference
A Downing Street spokesman said: 'After experiencing mild symptoms yesterday, the Prime Minister was tested for coronavirus on the personal advice of England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty.
'The test was carried out in No10 by NHS staff and the result of the test was positive.
'In keeping with the guidance, the Prime Minister is self-isolating in Downing Street.
'He is continuing to lead the government's response to coronavirus.'
The PM's spokesman said he would be carry out 'all of the same functions he was performing before' and 'the only difference is he will now have to do that via teleconferencing'. 
Mr Johnson's diagnosis was confirmed around midnight last night.  
Mr Hancock said in a video message recorded at his home that he would be self-isolating until next Thursday.
'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.
He also said a 'massive thank you to everybody in the NHS, working in social care and right across the board on the response'.
'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.'
'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.
'But the truth is that all of us can learn that working from home can be really, really effective.'
London is regarded as the engine of the outbreak in the UK, and many at Westminster have been struck down with symptoms.
Health minister Nadine Dorries was the first confirmed MP case, and has since recovered and returned to work. 
Prince Charles was confirmed as infected with coronavirus earlier this week.  
The declared UK death toll rose by 113 to 578 yesterday - the steepest increase yet. 
Mr Johnson was outside No10 last night alonside Mr Sunak applauding NHS workers who are combating the virus, in a national show of appreciation.
His spokesman said he thought it was 'important' to take part in NHS clap, and he stayed a 'very significant distance from the Chancellor'. 
He chaired a remote meeting of the coronavirus 'war cabinet' this morning. 
Mr Johnson took PMQs in the Commons on Wednesday, which could raise fears other politicians have been infected, even though people have been well spaced out in the chamber.
Cabinet on Tuesday was also carried out over video conference.
However, senior officials including Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill were close to the PM in Downing Street for the meeting.  
Downing Street said the advice to staff is they don't need to do anything unless they suspect they have symptoms, and then they should follow isolation guidance.
Asked if Chancellor or other senior people have been tested, the PM's spokesman said: 'I am not aware of any further testing.'
'Here in Number 10 we have been observing the advice on social distancing,' the spokesman said. 
Meals or work will be left for the PM in No11, with officials knocking on the door and then 'safely departing'. 
Mr Johnson has not taken any of the regular government press conferences this week.
His audience with the Queen, aged 93, was conducted by telephone. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: 'Her Majesty the Queen remains in good health. The Queen last saw the Prime Minister on the 11th March and is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare.'
On Monday he gave a dramatic address to the nation in which he declared that the country had to go into lockdown, with no-one leaving their houses unless absolutely necessary,
Mr Johnson's fiancee Carrie Symonds is pregnant and is thought to have been self-isolating in line with government advice.   
Ms Symonds, 32, who is believed to be six months pregnant with the baby due in the early summer, was last seen in Downing Street over the weekend and is likely to have left to protect herself.
She now faces an anxious wait to see if she has been exposed to coronavirus, with pregnant women are more likely to catch an infection than women who are not pregnant. 
The Prime Minister's official spokesman refused to comment of her whereabouts, health or whether she has been tested. 
Good wishes were sent to Mr Johnson from across the political spectrum after his announcement today. 
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.' 
Mayor London Sadiq Khan posted: 'Sorry to hear this and hope you feel better soon. Thank you for everything your Government is doing to help us fight this. This is a reminder that anyone can get #COVID19. We must all follow the rules and stay at home to support our amazing NHS staff to save lives.'  
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott tweeted: 'I don't wish anyone ill. I wish the Prime Minister a speedy recovery. I hope everyone in coming days gets the care and medical attention they need.'
Nigel Farage posted: 'Wishing @BorisJohnson well and a very rapid recovery.'
And former chancellor Sajid Javid replied: 'Get well soon. Sending you best wishes from Javid family and Bailey.'
European Council President Charles Michel tweeted: 'Get well soon @BorisJohnson Europe wishes you a speedy recovery. I believe we'll win this fight against #COVID19 together.'
World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted: 'Please take good care PM @BorisJohnson. I wish you an easy recovery. Thank you for calling on your nation to follow @NHSuk's guidance. Your leadership and commitment to beating the #coronavirus are key to saving lives in.' 
Britain's coronavirus death toll jumped to 578 after 113 more fatalities were confirmed yesterday across the home nations, making it the UK's darkest day yet in the escalating outbreak 
But officials had changed the timings of how they counted deaths, with the total declared on Wednesday only taking into account an eight-hour period. Yesterday's shocking figure represents a full 24-hour count. 
The daily death count is not only a count from overnight - the toll can include fatalities hospitals have only just processed, for example patients whose post-mortems have just come back.
Government scientists have admitted there is likely to be 1,000 infected patients for every death recorded in Britain - suggesting the true toll is in the region of 600,000. 
Number 10 has faced fierce criticism for its controversial policy to only test patients in hospital, meaning only a fraction of cases are being spotted and leaving the true scale of the UK's outbreak a mystery. 
Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday took questions from the media alongside the deputy chief medical officer as he unveiled a bail out for the self-employed.
Some 3.8million will be eligible for cash grants worth 80 per cent of salary up to £2,500 a month, in a massive boost for taxi drivers, musicians, gig economy workers and freelancers.
However, the Treasury admitted that the scheme will not be up and running until June, and around 200,000 self-employed will not be covered.
Only people turning a profit of less than £50,000 a year are eligible, ruling out many accountants, IT consultants, and lawyers. 
Families where a breadwinner has an income of £50,001 will miss out, while someone turning a £49,999 profit would be covered. 
Those who invest their profits in their business, or set themselves up as a limited company and pay themselves via a dividend, will also be ineligible.
Mr Johnson was in the Commons for PMQs on Wednesday, raising fears other politicians might have been infected
Mr Johnson was in the Commons for PMQs on Wednesday, raising fears other politicians might have been infected
Mr Johnson seemed to be well away from officials when he took part in a G20 video conference yesterday
Mr Johnson chaired Cabinet by video conference on Tuesday - but senior officials including Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill were still close to the PM
Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday took questions from the media alongside the deputy chief medical officer as he unveiled a bail out for the self-employed
Where did Boris Johnson catch coronavirus… and who did he infect? How PM came into close contact with politicians and health chiefs over past 10 days before testing positive 
Boris Johnson has been in close contact with dozens of politicians and health chiefs over the past ten days before testing positive for coronavirus.
The Prime Minister has been holding press conferences at 10 Downing Street with the likes of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.
He has also stood near Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.
While he has held Cabinet meetings and his audience with the Queen remotely, he still attended the House of Commons for Prime Minister's Questions this week. 
Going further back, the Prime Minister attended the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9 with his pregnant partner Carrie Symonds.
There, the couple spoke to a number of dignitaries and celebrities, and Mr Johnson was photographed shaking hands with boxer Anthony Joshua after the service.
He has also spoken to schoolchildren at No10 on March 5, visited flood defences in Worcestershire on March 8 and been to laboratories on March 1 and March 6. 
Boris Johnson in the study of 10 Downing Street on a video call to other G20 leaders yesterday
Boris Johnson in the study of 10 Downing Street on a video call to other G20 leaders yesterday
Boris Johnson on the phone in his office in Downing Street to Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday
Boris Johnson speaks during his first remote news conference on coronavirus on Wednesday
Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing Street from Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday
Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing Street from Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday
Boris Johnson speaks at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday
Boris Johnson speaks at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday
Boris Johnson chairs a weekly Cabinet meeting remotely from the Cabinet Rroom on Tuesday
Boris Johnson chairs a weekly Cabinet meeting remotely from the Cabinet Rroom on Tuesday


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