The Prime Minister’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is self-isolating after developing coronavirus-like symptoms, Number 10 has confirmed.
Mr Cummings becomes the latest member of the Downing Street inner circle to either be diagnosed with Covid-19 or be forced to self-isolate as a result of noticing symptoms associated with the deadly virus.
Boris Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the UK’s Brexit negotiator, David Frost, have all been struck down with coronavirus, while chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has quarantined himself after noticing symptoms.
Scotland Secretary Alister Jack, who sat between Conservative Party leader Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, confirmed at the weekend that he has a cough and a temperature – tell-tale signs of coronavirus – and would remain at home, making him the third Cabinet minister to shut themselves away.
Mr Cummings, the mastermind behind Vote Leave’s messaging at the EU referendum, was last seen running out of Number 10 shortly after Mr Johnson posted a video message on Friday announcing he had tested positive.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the 48-year-old noticed symptoms of Covid-19 over the course of the weekend and had decided to self-isolate.
Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020
I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the governmentâs response via video-conference as we fight this virus.
Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/9Te6aFP0Ri
Asked whether Mr Cummings had been tested for coronavirus, the spokesman added: “I wouldn’t expect that to be the case.”
He will continue to stay in contact with the Downing Street team while in isolation, a Number 10 source told the PA news agency.
Father-of-one Mr Cummings has proved a controversial figure, both before and after his appointment by Mr Johnson.
Downing Street last week denied suggestions that the PM’s top aide had been prepared to let the elderly die to protect the economy during the UK outbreak of coronavirus.
Number 10 branded as “highly defamatory” a Sunday Times report which claimed that Mr Cummings supported so-called “herd immunity” even if it meant older people died.
The PM’s spokesman said Mr Johnson was continuing to lead on the virus response while holed up in Number 11, where he occupies the upstairs flat.
“He is chairing the daily meetings using video conferencing facilities, he is working from the Chancellor’s office, he has been able to do everything he needs to do to lead the coronavirus response,” said the spokesman.
Isaac Levido, the Australian political strategist who played a key role in the Tory election win in December, has been drafted in to assist with the Government response to the health emergency, Downing Street confirmed.
But No 10 played down any link between Mr Levido’s involvement and Mr Cummings’ illness.
“I’m not sure of a link between the two but Isaac has been working with us in Number 10 for the past week on the coronavirus response,” said the PM’s spokesman.
“The two things aren’t related. He is working on all aspects of the response.”
The spokesman said a “number of people as contractors” had been brought in to Downing Street to “bolster” the Government’s efforts in dealing with the crisis.
As of Sunday, there were 19,522 positive cases in the UK and 1,228 of those admitted to hospital with Covid-19 had died.