If there’s one thing you can say about COVID-19, it’s that the virus is an equal opportunity infector. From celebrities to health care workers, sports fans to professional athletes, housewives to royalty, the coronavirus doesn’t give a damn. It will claim the lowest rungs of our society all the way up to the highest. This week, it went straight for the top politician in the United Kingdom when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Hi folks, I want to bring you up to speed with something that’s happening today, which is that I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus, that’s to say a temperature and a persistent cough, and on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer I’ve taken a test,” Johnson said in a video. “That has come out positive, so I am working from home, I’m self-isolating, and that’s the entirely the right thing to do.”
Johnson said he wouldn’t let the diagnosis distract him from the job at hand.
“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 said. “I want to thank everybody who’s working to keep our country going through this epidemic — and we will get through it, and the way we’re going to get through it is, of course, by applying the measures you will have heard so much about, and the more effectively we all comply with those measures the faster our country will get through this epidemic, and the faster we’ll bounce back.”
Johnson’s diagnosis comes hot on the heels of the announcement that Prince Charles, first in line to the British throne, has also contracted the coronavirus. CNN reported: “The Prince of Wales is only displaying mild symptoms and is otherwise in good health, Clarence House said in a statement. It is unknown how the 71-year-old caught the virus because of his recent busy schedule of public events.”
Queen Elizabeth II is reportedly healthy and sequestered at Windsor Castle.
Prime Minister Johnson took his fair share of criticism in early-to-mid March as health experts worried that the UK was not taking the potential for a coronavirus explosion more seriously. Johnson was slow to recommend school and restaurant closures, and there were some reports that Britain would take a “herd immunity” approach to the coronavirus, essentially just standing back and allowing the virus to do its thing unimpeded.
That calculation – if that’s what it was – changed last weekend when the government saw the disaster unfolding in Italy. Since then, the UK has been much more in line with other countries in terms of shutting down public gatherings and enforcing social distancing.