Europe

UK PM Johnson was in contact with Covid-19 carrier, confined to office work

LONDON (REUTERS) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his finance minister Rishi Sunak have been contacted by NHS test and trace as contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, Downing Street said on Sunday (July 18).

Health minister Sajid Javid on Saturday said he had tested positive for Covid-19.

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace as contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19,” a statement from Johnsons’s Downing Street office said on Sunday.

Typically, anyone identified as a contact by the tracing scheme would be required by law to self isolate for 10 days.

However, the government’s two most senior ministers will instead take part in a pilot study that allows them to continue working from their offices, and only self-isolate when not working.

“They will be participating in the daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue to work from Downing Street, “Downing Street said in a statement. “They will be conducting only essential government business during this period.”

The pilot scheme that exempts Johnson and Sunak is currently running in 20 workplaces, including transport and immigration infrastructure, and eligibility is assessed on a case by case basis.

The study is designed to look at whether daily contact testing is an effective way of identifying new cases and whether it has any impact on transmission of the virus.

In mid-August, Britain plans to change its rules on self isolation to exempt those who have been double vaccinated from the requirement to stay at home for 10 days.

Mr Johnson is proceeding with the full reopening of the economy, despite a fresh surge of cases fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant. New infections are running at their highest level since January.

Some scientists have expressed concern about the reopening given the high case rates, the substantial proportion of the population which is not yet fully vaccinated and the projected increases in hospitalisations and deaths.

So far, around 87.8 per cent of adults have received a first shot of Covid-19 vaccine, with the government also meeting a target to give two-thirds of adults two doses of vaccine by Monday.

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