Governments around the world are scrambling in the face of a new, sustained rise in coronavirus cases and deaths.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is in “good health” after coming into contact with someone with COVID-19 and will drive the government via Zoom while in self-isolation in Downing Street.
Smiling and wearing a jumper with an open-necked shirt, Johnson, 56, said in a video posted on Twitter on Monday that he was as “fit as a butcher’s dog”.
“I’m bursting with antibodies,” Johnson said. “Plenty more to say via Zoom of course and other means of electronic communication.”
Hi folks, I’ve been instructed by our NHS Test & Trace scheme to self-isolate for two weeks, after being in contact with someone with Covid-19.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 16, 2020
Johnson said he had been told by the NHS Test and Trace scheme to self-isolate for two weeks.
The announcement came after he met a small group of MPs at Downing Street on Thursday for about 35 minutes, including one who subsequently developed COVID-19 symptoms and has now tested positive.
“He’s well, he’s absolutely full of beans,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News. “He’ll be, I’ve got no doubt, driving things forward this week by Zoom.”
When Johnson caught COVID-19 in late March, he tried to work through the illness – but ended up wearing an oxygen mask in an intensive care unit and was ultimately out of action for almost a month.
He later credited the hospital staff with saving his life and said he fought for his life as the state prepared for the possible death in office of a prime minister.
The UK leader has said his coronavirus case was seriously worsened by being overweight, but that he had since lost 12kg (26 pounds).
“I am going to continue that diet, because you’ve got to search for the hero inside of yourself, in the hope that that individual is considerably slimmer,” he joked last month.
Johnson’s confinement came as negotiations with the European Union over Brexit enter a decisive final sprint.
Britain on Monday said its red lines remained unchanged but that it wanted to reach a trade deal with the EU if the bloc chose to make progress.
“Our red lines haven’t changed and we’re preparing for whatever the outcome is,” Hancock told Sky.
“Of course, our preference is to get a deal and that is open to the Europeans if they choose to make the progress that’s needed,” he said
The PM intends to address the country during his confinement, Downing Street said.
Johnson’s self-isolation also risks upsetting a busy week as the UK enters its third week of reimposed coronavirus restrictions and the prime minister was due to chair a series of key COVID-19 meetings.
The renewed stay-at-home restrictions and business closures came into force earlier this month and have been met with scepticism that they can halt the worst death toll from the virus in Europe.
The UK is supposed to be returning to a regionalised approach – lifting the sweeping lockdown currently in place – from December 2.
But the country remains hard-hit, recording more than 50,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus from more than 1.3 million positive cases.