UK health minister gets COVID ahead of 'freedom day'
British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating – just as his government prepares to jettison most pandemic restrictions in England.
"I was feeling a bit groggy last night, so I took a lateral flow test this morning and it's come out positive," he said in a video message on Twitter.
"So I'm now self-isolating at home with my family until I get the result of a PCR test. I'm grateful that I've had two jabs of the vaccine. And so far, my symptoms are very mild."
Under his government's rules, Javid is now required to self-isolate for 10 days unless the PCR test comes back negative and he no longer has symptoms.
Any of his "close contacts" – potentially including others in the government – would have to self-isolate too if they receive instructions from the state-run National Health Service (NHS).
Javid has only been in the job since June 26, when former health secretary Matt Hancock resigned following revelations he had broken coronavirus restrictions during an affair with a close aide.
Javid said any member of the public feeling symptoms should get a 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," he said.
However, with coronavirus cases again surging, many scientists say the government is endangering the NHS with its plan on Monday to scrap most legal pandemic requirements in England.
For the first time since mid-January, Britain's daily COVID caseload exceeded 50,000 on Friday, and Javid has warned the figure could double from that in the coming weeks.
But the government insists that with two-thirds of the adult population now fully vaccinated, the risk can be managed, and Monday has been dubbed "freedom day" by many UK media.