British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he was as ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’ after being instructed to self-isolate for 14 days as he recently came into contact with someone who has since tested positive for coronavirus.
In a video message posted to Twitter from his London apartment in Downing Street, Johnson said it didn’t matter that he had already suffered from COVID-19 and that he was “full of antibodies”.
The quarantine requirement comes at the start of a crucial week for Johnson’s Tory government which includes talks on a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union. Negotiators are meeting in Brussels this week with the weather on a quickly running out of agreement.
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Johnson contracted the virus in April and spent three days in intensive care as his symptoms worsened.
He met with a small group of lawmakers for about half an hour on Thursday, including one, Lee Anderson, who then developed symptoms and tested positive.
Johnson was briefed on Sunday by the National Health Service’s testing and tracing system and said he should self-isolate due to factors such as the length of the meeting.
“We need to stop the spread of the disease and one of the ways we can do that now is to self-isolate for 14 days when contacted by Test and Trace,” Johnson said.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was right that the Prime Minister isolated himself even though he already had coronavirus, because people “can catch it twice”.
“The Prime Minister follows exactly the same rules as anyone else in the country,” Hancock told BBC Radio.
Hancock also dismissed suggestions that Downing Street was not following the advice he preaches as photos of Johnson and Anderson posed for a photo apparently less than two meters (6 1/2 feet) away and without a face mask. When the pandemic started in the spring, many members of the government contracted the virus, including Hancock.
Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said the self-isolation rules “are probably reasonable”.
He told BBC Radio that there have been more than 25 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reinfection around the world, but that he believes the actual rate of reinfection is “much higher than that, but not huge. . ”
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“I think my goal is not to be alarmist because whatever the risk is, it is low,” he said. “Based on some of our data and data from others, it’s the people who had the most negligible antibody response the first time around who are most at risk for reinfection. “