London: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in isolation with a high temperature, more than a week after testing positive for coronavirus.
Johnson made the announcement in a video posted on Twitter on Friday, as the latest official figures showed 3,605 people had died from the disease in the U.K. by April 2. The increase of 684 deaths was the biggest daily rise so far.
The premier has been locked away in his Downing Street apartment for seven days. “I still have a temperature,” he said in his video. “In accordance with government advice I must continue my self-isolation.”
With deaths still rising the premier is anxious to drum home his message that Britons must obey government orders to stay in their homes as much as possible. On March 23 Johnson ordered a national lockdown, closing schools, stores, restaurants and leisure facilities. Under emergency laws, police have the power to fine individuals who flout the rules and break up gatherings of more than two people in public.
With the economy under threat and daily life on hold, Queen Elizabeth II will address the nation in a special broadcast on Sunday.
Johnson’s health advisers have pointed to “green shoots” of optimism in the country’s battle with the virus, but they still expect the death toll to rise in coming days. That’s because it takes time for the shutdown measures to have an impact on slowing infection rates and reducing daily admissions to hospital.
Johnson, 55, felt unwell on March 26 and took a test for the virus, which confirmed he had the illness. The following day he announced he was in isolation.
The premier appeared on his doorstep on Thursday night to join in a mass nationwide round of applause in support of state health-care workers. With good weather forecast for the weekend, Johnson used his video on Friday to reiterate his demand that people stay at home, even if they and their children were feeling “stir crazy.”
“There may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out and start to break the regulations,” Johnson said. “I just urge you not to do that. Please, please stick with the guidance now.”
Johnson’s government has been battling criticism over its handling of the pandemic, especially its failure to conduct wide testing and a shortage of face masks and other protective equipment for National Health Service workers. Some 35,000 frontline NHS staff are off work due to the virus, but most have not yet been tested to see if they have it.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also tested positive for the virus last week but returned to work on Thursday, promising to deliver 100,000 virus tests per day by the end of the month. Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, also went into isolation with symptoms of the virus.
British government guidelines state that individuals should isolate for seven days after developing symptoms of a new persistent cough or a fever. If the high temperature continues, people should remain in isolation for longer until it returns to normal, according to the guidelines. If just a cough remains, they are allowed to come out of self-isolation. – Bloomberg