British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital 10 days after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
“On the advice of his doctor, the Prime Minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests," a spokesperson at No. 10 Downing Street said late Sunday. “This is a precautionary step, as the Prime Minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus."
Officials added that while Mr. Johnson, 55, continues to have a high temperature, this was not an emergency admission. “He remains in charge of the government, and is in contact with ministerial colleagues and officials.”
The Prime Minister has been in self-isolation and largely out of public view. His fiancée, Carrie Symonds who is pregnant, also felt unwell recently but said over the weekend that she has been recovering. In addition, three cabinet ministers, including Health Minister Matt Hancock, have developed symptoms or tested positive.
Mr. Johnson’s admission to hospital was announced just after a special broadcast by the Queen in which she urged Britain and the Commonwealth to work together to overcome the pandemic.
“Together we are tackling this disease and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute then we will overcome it,” the Queen said. "I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.”
The Queen has only given three other special broadcasts during her 68-year reign – during the Gulf War in 1991; before the funeral of Diana, the Princess of Wales, in 1997; and on the death of her mother in 2002. She made her first broadcast in 1940 with her sister, Princess Margaret, when they addressed children affected by the Second World War.
The Queen, who turns 94 this month, recorded the message at Windsor Castle where she has been living with Prince Philip for the past few weeks in isolation. Her son, the Prince of Wales, tested positive for the virus two weeks ago and spent seven days in self-isolation at the royal estate in Balmoral, Scotland. There had been concern that Prince Charles, 71, had come in contact with the Queen at Buckingham Palace while he was contagious, but palace officials have insisted the monarch is in good health.
The Queen’s address came at the behest of the British government, which had been keen for her to reinforce lockdown measures imposed by Mr. Johnson two weeks ago.
As of Sunday, Britain had 47,806 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease and 4,934 deaths. While both figures have been climbing steadily, the rate of growth has remained relatively constant in recent days, suggesting the country could be close to the peak of the pandemic.
Positive signs have also emerged elsewhere in Europe. The daily death tolls in Italy, France and Spain have begun to fall, and in Italy the number of people in hospital or requiring intensive care has dropped.
However, total confirmed cases in Italy and Spain have climbed to around 130,000 in each country while the number of people who have died has soared above 15,000 in Italy and 12,000 in Spain. France has more than 90,000 cases and 8,078 deaths.
Britain’s restrictions have been less stringent than in other European countries, but on Sunday Mr. Hancock warned that could change. He made his comment after people flocked to parks over the weekend and appeared to flout guidelines that allow for just one daily dose of exercise outside.
“My message is really clear: If you don’t want us to have to take the step to ban exercise of all forms outside of your own home, then you’ve got to follow the rules,” Mr. Hancock warned on Sunday.
But the government’s efforts to encourage people to adhere to the lockdown took a blow on Sunday when Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer apologized and then resigned after visiting her holiday home twice recently, a clear violation of rules she helped adopt. Catherine Calderwood, who led daily briefings on the outbreak in Scotland, was photographed by The Scottish Sun at her second home in Fife, about an hour drive from her main residence in Edinburgh.
“While there are reasons for what I did, they do not justify it and they were not legitimate reasons to be out of my home,” she said in her initial apology. “I understand that I did not follow the advice I am giving to others, and I am truly sorry for that.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stood by Dr. Calderwood at first and said she’d made a mistake. However, by Sunday evening Dr. Calderwood had quit, saying she didn’t want the issue to become a distraction.
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