British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first world leader to be diagnosed with the illness that has swept the globe.
“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” Johnson said on Twitter.
“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.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement that Johnson, whose partner Carrie Symonds is pregnant, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday and was tested for COVID-19 on the personal advice of England’s chief medical officer.
The government confirmed this week that if Johnson was incapacitated, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would temporarily assume the role of prime minister.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to wish him “a full and speedy recovery.”
Dear @BorisJohnson, on behalf of the people of Israel I wish you a full and speedy recovery. Your friend, Benjamin Netanyahu
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 27, 2020
His diagnosis followed that of Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, who was diagnosed on Wednesday.
British Health Minister Nadine Dorries was also infected with the virus earlier this month and has since recovered.
As of Friday, the UK has had over 11,000 infections and nearly 600 deaths from the virus.
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.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020
The government on Monday ordered a three-week lockdown of the country to cut close-contact transmission, to slow the rate of infection and reduce the burden on healthcare services.
The elderly and most vulnerable, including those with underlying health issues, have been told to stay at home, and anyone displaying symptoms to self-isolate for seven days.
On Wednesday Johnson said over 400,000 people had signed up within 24 hours of a British government call for volunteers to help those stuck at home due to the outbreak.
The volunteer force will help deliver groceries and medicines to the most vulnerable people instructed by the government to self-isolate. This is larger than Britain’s armed forces, which currently stand at just over 192,000.
Hospitals in the British capital are being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, the head of an organization representing bosses in the state-run National Health Service said on Thursday.
The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, told BBC radio that London hospitals had seen an “explosion of demand… in seriously ill patients,” likening it to a “continuous tsunami,” with numbers predicted to surge in the next fortnight.
“They talk about wave, after wave after wave,” he said. “The word that’s often used to me is a sort of continuous tsunami.”