U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday he has tested positive for the coronavirus, making him the first major governmental leader known to have contracted the disease.
Johnson, 55, said in a video posted to Twitter that he has developed “a temperature and a persistent cough,” and that he would self-isolate at home.
“But 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 fight back against coronavirus,” Johnson said.
Johnson was tested for COVID-19 on Thursday on the advice of England’s chief medical officer after experiencing “mild symptoms,” a spokesman for No. 10 Downing Street said in a statement.
“The test was carried out in No 10 by [National Health Service] staff and the result of the test was positive,” the spokesman said. “In keeping with the guidance, the Prime Minister is self-isolating in Downing Street.”
Later Friday morning, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he also tested positive for the virus. Hancock said in a video that his symptoms are “very mild” and that he will self-quarantine until Thursday of next week.
Johnson’s diagnosis offers one of the most potent examples yet of how the deadly and highly transmissible coronavirus has permeated life around the world at every level of society.
Two days earlier, the British royal household announced that Prince Charles, heir to the throne, tested positive for the disease. The 71-year-old Prince of Wales began displaying mild symptoms last weekend.
The coronavirus has hit home for other world leaders, as well.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday decided to quarantine herself after being exposed to a doctor who tested positive for the virus.
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for the virus two weeks ago. The prime minister said he would isolate himself as a precaution. On Wednesday, he said his wife was feeling much better, according to Vancouver all-news radio station 1130 News. He also said he and his children remained free of COVID-19 but didn’t say whether he was ending his self-isolation.
President Donald Trump and other top members of his administration, such as Vice President Mike Pence, have said they tested negative for the coronavirus. But the devastating economic impact of the draconian efforts being imposed to try to contain the spread of the disease has taken a toll on Trump’s business empire: Trump Organization properties, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, have shuttered their doors in the peak of their seasons.
The White House also announced last week that the next meeting of leaders from the Group of Seven nations, scheduled for June, will be held via video conference rather than an in-person gathering at Camp David as was originally intended.
The virus, which is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has quickly spread to more than 150 countries.
More than 533,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, including at least 24,082 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.