Johnson’s chief adviser self-isolating
LONDON – The coronavirus outbreak at the heart of the United Kingdom government spread on Monday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, self-isolating with symptoms just days after the British leader himself tested positive.
Johnson, who announced on Friday that he was infected with the virus, but would continue to lead the government’s response to the outbreak, chaired a meeting on Monday from self-isolation in Downing Street.
“The prime minister chaired the 9.15 meeting and was full of vigour and giving us the leadership we need, and we’re a united cabinet team in terms of getting the country through this crisis,” foreign minister Dominic Raab said at a news conference.
A Downing Street spokesman said Cummings, one of the most powerful men in the government, had developed symptoms of COVID-19 over the weekend and was staying at home.
The adviser was seen sprinting out of Downing Street on Friday, shortly after Johnson revealed he had tested positive. The prime minister’s office did not respond to a request for comment on his rapid departure.
The United Kingdom has reported 1 408 deaths from the novel coronavirus and a total of 22 141 confirmed cases.
The government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said hospital admissions were stable at around 1 000 per day, and he did not expect the daily increase to reach significantly higher numbers.
“It’s quite important, it tells you that actually this is a bit more stable than it has been,” he said.
With the peak of the epidemic in Britain expected to come in two or three weeks and the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) at risk of being overwhelmed, temporary field hospitals are under construction in venues ranging from rugby stadiums to conference centres.