U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing them to lead the nation’s response to the pandemic from their homes in self-isolation, CNN reports.
Both announced their infections Friday on Twitter.
The Prime Minister announced the news in a video clip and said his symptoms were mild and that he could continue working as usual.
“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this,” Johnson wrote.
The announcements come as British health authorities announced another 181 fatalities on Friday, bringing the death toll to 759. More than 14,500 infections have been recorded, but as the UK is not testing widely, true infection numbers are likely to be much higher.
In the video, Johnson said he was experiencing a temperature and a persistent cough, key symptoms of the virus, and that he had taken a test on the advice of the country’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty.
“I’ve taken a test. That has come out positive,” he said.
He added that he was working from home and self-isolating. “And that’s 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 fightback against coronavirus,” he said.
Johnson joins a long list of government officials around the world who have been infected with the coronavirus, however Johnson is the first actual world leader to test positive.
News of Johnson’s coronavirus status comes two days after Prince Charles revealed he had also tested positive for the respiratory virus. Charles is in self-isolation in Scotland. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also been in isolation since her doctor tested positive for the virus, but her first two tests have been negative.
Johnson’s government has come under pressure to test for the virus more widely and to provide WHO standard protective gear for doctors and nurses across the country.
In the event that Johnson is unable to carry out his official duties as prime minister, his role would likely be filled temporarily by Dominic Raab, the U.K.’s foreign secretary and first secretary of state, 10 Downing Street said early this week.
There are concerns that Johnson met with Queen Elizabeth II on March 11, Buckingham Palace said Friday.
“The Queen last saw the PM on the 11th March and is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare,” the palace said in a statement.