Johnson may have to self-isolate if minister has Covid-19

The Prime Minister could be asked to self-quarantine again if business secretary Alok Sharma tests positive.

Johnson may have to self-isolate if minister has Covid-19 Getty Images
Sharma: PM and Chancellor had meeting with him (right).

Number 10 has admitted Boris Johnson may have to self-isolate for a second time if UK business secretary Alok Sharma tests positive for Covid-19.

Sharma was tested for coronavirus on Wednesday after appearing visibly unwell while giving a statement in the House of Commons.

Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak held a 45-minute meeting with the business secretary on Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

He said the meeting had been socially-distanced but said the PM would follow medical advice if spoken to by contact tracers.

As in Scotland, if someone tests positive for coronavirus, all their contacts should be traced – and they may be asked to self-isolate for a fortnight.

Johnson previously had to self-quarantine in March and April when he was diagnosed with Covid-19 before the disease left him fighting for his life in intensive care at a London hospital.

Downing Street said the UK Government was not reconsidering its controversial move to end remote voting in the Commons.

The return to traditional voting was agreed by a Commons majority but there were chaotic scenes at Westminster on Tuesday as MPs were forced to join a huge queue – compared by one MP to Alton Towers – in order to vote.

The queue stretched for several hundred metres, snaking through Westminster Hall and running to Portcullis House, the newer part of the parliamentary estate.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael dubbed the abandonment of virtual voting “as unacceptable as it is dangerous”.

MPs on Thursday will debate a motion from Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to allow those who are shielding and aged over 70 to vote by proxy.

But Sharma’s Covid-19 test has renewed calls from opposition and some Conservative MPs for a return to the “hybrid” arrangements, including remote working and voting, agreed in the early stages of the pandemic.

A Downing Street spokesman said of Sharma: “He does not yet have his test results.

“Should the secretary of state receive a positive test then he will work with the test and trace service to share information about his recent interactions.

“He did attend a meeting in No 10, which took place before cabinet.

“That was a discussion on the economy and in terms of who was present, it was the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the business secretary.”

He stressed the meeting took place with two-metre distancing in place and pointed towards the government guidelines on how the tracers operate, which include asking individuals whether they had been to a workplace recently.

The spokesman confirmed that even those who have had Covid-19 must isolate.

Pressed on whether the PM would self-isolate if told to, he said: “I would expect us to take medical advice and to follow it.”

The business secretary was tested for Covid-19 and entered self-isolation after he was seen mopping his brow while struggling at the despatch box during parliamentary business.

A House of Commons spokeswoman said “additional cleaning” had taken place following Sharma’s appearance at the despatch box.

Labour shadow minister Toby Perkins said: “If there are now fears that he may have Covid-19 and he hadn’t already tested negative, it was the height of irresponsibility for him to be in parliament sniffling, sweating and snorting from the despatch box.”