British PM Boris Johnson says he's tested positive for coronavirus

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating but will still lead the government's response to the outbreak.

Johnson will be self-isolating at 11 Downing Street, next door to traditional PM quarters

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among Britons to step outside residences or on balconies Thursday night to applaud health-care workers and the National Health Service. Johnson's office said he began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 on Thursday. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating but will still lead the U.K. government's response to the outbreak.

"Over the last 24 hours, I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," Johnson said.

"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 in a video message posted to Twitter.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson, 55, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday — a day after the prime minister's weekly question-and-answer session in the chamber of the House of Commons.

"The prime minister was tested for coronavirus on the personal advice of England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty," the spokesperson said.

WATCH:  U.K. prime minister tests positive for coronavirus

U.K. prime minister tests positive for coronavirus

2 years ago
Saying his symptoms are mild and that he will continue to work from home, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he has tested positive for coronavirus. 2:42

Previously, the government has said that Johnson had the option to delegate to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab if needed.

It was not immediately clear whether Johnson's 32-year-old partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, had been tested.

Johnson will be working from an office borrowed at 11 Downing Street from Finance Minister Rishi Sunak in a property adjacent to his own official offices, holding ministerial meetings via video conference.

Meals and paperwork will be delivered to his door, a spokesperson said.

"In terms of where staff have to leave meals for the PM or to deliver work, then obviously they can leave that for the prime minister — and they can knock on the door … and then they can safely depart," the spokesperson said.

The unprecedented arrangement means doors and corridors have been sealed off within the sprawling 17th-century residence-cum-offices of 10 Downing Street, recognized around the world for its glossy black front door and unusual dark facade.

Downing Street, a popular tourist attraction, has been the on-off seat of the government for nearly 300 years. Britain's role in two world wars was co-ordinated from the central London terrace near the Houses of Parliament.

Death toll rises considerably

Johnson encountered some criticism from the opposition and in the press for waiting longer than a number of European countries in ordering schools and non-essential businesses closed. Still, his stay-at-home orders on Monday are the most severe restrictions on everyday life imposed by a British government in peacetime.

Britain said 759 people had died after testing positive for coronavirus as of Thursday evening, a jump of 181 people, or 31 per cent, since the previous day's reporting.

Johnson's announcement comes two days after it was announced that Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, had tested positive.

It was also announced Friday that Health Secretary Matt Hancock tested positive for the virus. Hancock said he was experiencing mild symptoms and continuing to work while self-isolating.

Nadine Dorries, junior health minister, returned to the House of Commons on Wednesday after completing her self-isolation period following a positive test.

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