The British government was hit with another coronavirus infection Monday just as Prince Charles ended his self-isolation after testing positive for the virus last week.
The Prince of Wales "is in good health and is now operating under the current standard government and medical restrictions that apply nationwide,” said a statement released Monday from Clarence House, his London residence.
Just hours later, government officials confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s key adviser, Dominic Cummings, had developed COVID-19 symptoms over the weekend and was self-isolating at home in London. Mr. Cummings has been a lead architect of the government’s agenda, particularly on Brexit.
Prince Charles, 71, tested positive for COVID-19 last Monday after displaying mild symptoms. He went into self-isolation at Birkhall, a cottage on the Queen’s Balmoral Estate in Scotland. His wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 72, tested negative but still began a 14-day period of self-isolation.
Health guidelines in Britain say anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate for seven days, since most people are no longer contagious after that period, and anyone who has had exposure to a confirmed case should self-isolate for 14 days, since that’s typically how long it takes for symptoms to develop.
Mr. Johnson has also tested positive for the virus, along with the Minister of Health and two other cabinet ministers. England’s Chief Medical Officer went into self-isolation after developing symptoms last week.
Britain now has at least 22,141 confirmed cases, and 1,408 people have died. While the number of cases has been rising, health officials said the rate of increase has slowed in recent days. The country has been under a near-total lockdown for a week, and officials say the restrictions have helped slow the spread of the disease. However, Britain remains at least two weeks away from the peak of the outbreak, and some restrictions on movement could remain in place for up to six months, officials added.
There have also been some hopeful signs elsewhere in Europe. The daily increase in the number of infections in Italy, which has more than 101,000 cases, slowed to 2.2 per cent Monday. Officials in Spain, which has more than 85,000 cases, said the upward curve there is also showing signs of flattening.
Prince Charles’s positive test had been a concern given his age and proximity to the Queen, who is 93. Palace officials said last week that it wasn’t possible to know how he became infected “owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks."
His last public event was in London on March 12, when he hosted a reception and dinner to support relief efforts for the Australian bush fires. Earlier that day, he attended assorted events at Buckingham Palace but followed noncontact rules put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
Buckingham Palace confirmed that he also met with the Queen on March 12. However, doctors believe he was not contagious until the following day. It’s not clear how that assessment was made or whether the Queen has been tested. Palace officials have repeatedly said the monarch “remains in good health.”
While the country battles to contain the outbreak, the toll on the economy worsened Monday. A popular restaurant chain, Carluccio’s, filed for bankruptcy protection along with household goods retailer BrightHouse. The insolvencies put a total of 4,400 jobs at risk, and analysts said they could be just the start of a wave of bankruptcies across the retail and restaurant sectors.
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