U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson revealed on Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, telling the nation in a video that his symptoms were mild, consisting of “a temperature and a persistent cough” — and that he would continue to oversee his government’s response to the crisis as he self-quarantines. Johnson also thanked health-care workers and assured the country that it would get through the pandemic.
The British government has been among the slowest in the Western world to take drastic measures to combat the virus’s spread. As much of Europe instituted lockdown measures during the first half of March, Johnson’s team took a different route, initially insisting that its strategy for the outbreak, which involved building up “herd immunity” among the populace by allowing the virus to spread, meant there was no need to shut down society. After loud criticism from many corners, the government reversed course in a matter of days, and Johnson’s Twitter account now includes the hashtag “stay home save lives” next to his name.
The Prime Minister was the second huge name in British political life to fall ill in recent days; Prince Charles tested positive for the virus earlier this week.