Coronavirus: Boris Johnson tests POSITIVE, as US overtakes China with most cases

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that he is self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) .

In a tweet earlier today, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that he had tested positive for coronavirus. Mr Johnson said he was experiencing “mild symptoms” and would be leading the country from home while self-isolating.

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” he said on Twitter, posting a video message.

“I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” he wrote.

“Be in no doubt that I can continue thanks to the wizardry of modern technology to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus,” he added in the video message.

A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement that Johnson, whose partner Carrie Symonds is pregnant, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday and was tested for COVID-19 on the personal advice of England’s chief medical officer.

The test was carried out in No 10 by NHS staff, the spokesperson added.

In his video message, Johnson thanked workers in Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) for their efforts in battling the spread of the virus.

A total of 11,658 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Britain, and 578 deaths.

Earlier this week Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, also tested positive for the virus.

The government confirmed this week that if Johnson was incapacitated, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would temporarily assume the role of prime minister.

He will have to self-isolate for at least 14 days from his girlfriend and fiance, Carrie Symonds, 32, who is currently pregnant – and in the more “vulnerable” category.

She may be forced to move to the pair’s Camberwell flat instead, while he is sick.

Last night she posted a snap of herself and pet dog Dilyn, online saying she was currently self-isolating.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate symptoms, including a cough, fever and shortness of breath.

But they have advised them to increase their social distancing and stay at home as much as possible.

World leaders wish Johnson quick recovery

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was the first national leader to send a message of support for Boris Johnson on Twitter.

On the news that the British prime minister had tested positive, Mr Vucic said: “Get well soon and keep fighting.”

European Council president Charles Michel also wrote on Twitter: “Europe wishes you a speedy recovery.”

Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Mr Johnson: “Please take good care.”

He went on: “Your leadership and commitment to beating the coronavirus are key to saving lives.”

Meanwhile, The US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 85,500 positive tests.

According to the latest figures collated by Johns Hopkins University, the US has overtaken China (81,782 cases) and Italy (80,589).

But with almost 1,300 Covid-19-related fatalities, the US death toll lags behind China (3,291) and Italy (8,215).

The grim milestone came as President Donald Trump predicted the nation would get back to work “pretty quickly”.

How did the White House react?

Asked about the latest figures at a White House briefing on Thursday afternoon, President Trump said it was “a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing”.

Vice-President Mike Pence said coronavirus tests were now available in all 50 states and more than 552,000 tests had been conducted nationwide.

Mr Trump also cast doubt on the figures coming out of Beijing, telling reporters: “You don’t know what the numbers are in China.”

But later, he tweeted that he had had a “very good conversation” with China’s President Xi Jinping.

“China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!” President Trump said.

Does the president still hope to ease restrictions?

Mr Trump has set a much-criticised goal of Easter Sunday, 12 April, for reopening the country. That plan seemed to gather impetus on Thursday as it emerged an unprecedented 3.3 million Americans have been laid off because of the virus.

At Thursday’s briefing, he said: “They [the American people] have to go back to work, our country has to go back, our country is based on that and I think it’s going to happen pretty quickly.

“We may take sections of our country, we may take large sections of our country that aren’t so seriously affected and we may do it that way.”

He added: “A lot of people misinterpret when I say go back – they’re going to be practising as much as you can social distancing, and washing your hands and not shaking hands and all of the things we talked about.”

He promised more details next week.

What could he be planning?

In a letter to state governors on Thursday, Mr Trump said his team plans to release federal social distancing guidelines that may advise some regions to loosen restrictions.

Mr Trump wrote of a “long battle ahead” and said “robust” testing protocols might allow some counties to lift their safeguards against the coronavirus.

He said the “new guidelines” would create low, medium and high risk zones that would allow the government to advise on “maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place”.

On Thursday night, Mr Trump phoned in to Fox News host Sean Hannity’s programme and said he believed Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska and parts of Texas could reopen earlier than other states.

The plan emerged as new research on Thursday estimated Covid-19-related deaths in the US could top 80,000 over the coming four months – even if people observe strict social distancing.

As many as 2,300 patients could be dying every day by April, according to the study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine

What’s the reaction?

The Republican president’s get-back-to-work goal found unexpected support on Thursday from a prominent Democrat.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, the current coronavirus epicentre in the US, said statewide quarantine orders may not have been the best approach to coronavirus.

“Young people then quarantined with older people was probably not the best public health strategy,” he told a news conference, “because the younger people could have been exposing the older people to an infection.”

Mr Cuomo said a better way forward might be a “get-back-to-work strategy” in tandem with a public health strategy.

Public health experts on the White House task force have demurred when asked about reopening the country by Easter, suggesting the timeline should be “very flexible”.

Can the president order everyone back to work?

No. On 16 March, he set a 15-day period to slow down the spread of Covid-19 by urging all Americans to drastically scale back their public interactions.

But those guidelines were voluntary and did not amount to a national order.

The US Constitution makes clear states have the power for maintaining public order and safety, which scholars say means it is the responsibility of governors to decide when virus-related restrictions get lifted.

Currently 21 US states have told residents to stay in their homes or ordered the closure of non-essential businesses in order to contain the pandemic.

What’s happening elsewhere in the US?

There were growing fears that Louisiana could become the country’s next hotspot, with the governor warning that the state’s biggest city, New Orleans, could be out of ventilators by 2 April and potentially out of beds by 7 April.

“It’s not conjecture, it’s not some flimsy theory,” John Bel Edwards told a news conference. “This is what is going to happen.”

Additionally, Dr Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus response, said two other cities showed signs of rapidly rising new infections – Detroit, where the mayor described the situation as “really concerning”, and Chicago.