Boris Johnson could be hit by ‘pingdemic’ as Sajid Javid tests positive for Covid

Cabinet minister says his symptoms are ‘mild’ but he feels ‘groggy’

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Saturday 17 July 2021 22:20 BST
Sajid Javid Announces Positive Covid Test

Boris Johnson could join the hundreds of thousands caught by the “pingdemic” and told to self-isolate, after health secretary Sajid Javid revealed he has tested positive for coronavirus.

It is understood that Mr Javid held a lengthy meeting with the prime minister in 10 Downing Street on Friday, just hours before “feeling groggy” in the evening.

He underwent a rapid-turnaround lateral flow test on Saturday morning, which said he was suffering from Covid-19 infection, despite having received two vaccine jabs. The health secretary later said on Saturday evening the results had been confirmed by a PCR test.

In a video message on his Twitter feed, the health secretary said that his symptoms were “very mild” and he was self-isolating at home with his family.

But the positive result sparked a new Covid scare at the heart of government.

The diagnosis is being checked using the more reliable PCR test. A confirmed positive result would trigger a search by NHS Test and Trace, who will instruct recent contacts to follow Mr Javid into self-isolation, while others in Whitehall can expect to be “pinged” by the NHS smartphone app and asked to quarantine at home.

Photos showed Mr Javid leaving 10 Downing Street on Friday afternoon, apparently after a meeting with the prime minister, though No 10 sources refused to confirm details of Mr Johnson’s diary.

He visited a care home in south London on Tuesday and attended the chamber of the House of Commons on Wednesday to open the debate on the Health and Social Care Bill, though it is not clear whether he was infected at that point.

Face-to-face meetings inside Downing Street are routinely conducted in accordance with social distancing guidelines, so it is possible that the PM may avoid being identified as a contact.

Mr Javid’s own 10-day self-isolation with his family extends to Monday 26 July.

The positive test sparked renewed calls for Boris Johnson to halt his planned relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in England on Monday, when legal requirements to socially distance and wear face-coverings will be lifted.

In a video message released on Saturday, 51-year-old Mr Javid said: “This morning I tested positive for Covid. I’m waiting for my PCR result, but thankfully I have had my jabs and symptoms are mild.

“Please make sure you come forward for your vaccine if you haven’t already.”

Mr Javid said he took the test after feeling “a bit groggy” on Friday night.

“I'm now self-isolating at home with my family until I get the result of the PCR test,” he said.

“I'm grateful that I've had two jabs of the vaccine, and so far my symptoms are very mild.”

He urged anyone who has not yet taken up the offer of vaccines to “get out there and get them as soon as you can”.

And he added: “If, like me, you might feel a bit groggy, or you think might have come into contact with someone who's positive, please also take a lateral flow test too.

“If everyone plays their part, you're not only protecting yourself and your loved ones, but you're also safeguarding the NHS and helping to preserve our way of life.”

Mr Javid is the latest in a string of senior government ministers and officials to be struck by Covid-19, including his predecessor as health secretary Matt Hancock and prime minister Boris Johnson, who spent three days in intensive care last year.

Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said: “I really wish Sajid Javid, his team and family are well, and all those he has been in contact with over recent days, including visits.

“This shows no one is safe from this deadly virus. The government needs to rethink its reckless plans for Monday.

“By easing all restrictions with cases surging, they are experimenting with people’s lives. Right now, they are pursuing a strategy of survival of the fittest, where the young and clinically vulnerable will be left defenceless.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sent a message of support in response to Mr Javid’s Twitter announcement: “Sorry to hear this, but good news that your symptoms are mild. Hope you feel better soon.”

Scientists warn that two doses of vaccine do not provide blanket protection to everyone from infection with Covid-19.

Analysis by Public Health England shows that both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines offer better than 90 per cent efficacy against the dominant Delta variant of the virus after two doses, meaning that some of those with double jabs will still suffer “breakthrough” infections – though these are usually mild.

BBC presenter Andrew Marr revealed that he was infected at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June, despite having received two vaccine doses.

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