Dominic Cummings self-isolates after experiencing coronavirus symptoms

Boris Johnson’s key adviser believed to have mild symptoms including a cough

Dominic Cummings has developed symptoms of coronavirus over the weekend and is self-isolating, a source has confirmed.

Boris Johnson’s key adviser, who was last seen running through Downing Street on Friday, is believed to have experienced mild symptoms including a cough.

The prime minister and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, are already self-isolating after developing symptoms towards the end of last week.

A Whitehall source confirmed a report by the Daily Mail’s Jason Groves that Cummings was still communicating with No 10.

Last week, Downing Street rejected as “a highly defamatory fabrication” a claim that Cummings initially argued against strict measures to contain coronavirus in a view summarised as “if that means some pensioners die, too bad”.

The claim, initially made in the Sunday Times, said that at one private event at the end of February, Cummings outlined the government’s strategy at the time in a way that was summarised by some present as “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.” A Downing Street spokesman said last week: “This is a highly defamatory fabrication which was not put to No 10 by the Sunday Times before publication. The article also includes a series of apparent quotes from meetings which are invented.”

Johnson tested positive on Friday for coronavirus and is self-isolating in Downing Street. He said he had experienced mild symptoms over the previous 24 hours, including a temperature and cough, but continues to lead the government.

Hancock said he had also tested positive, while England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, has shown symptoms.

Cummings, 48, who is a father of one, is believed to be recovering in his family home in north London with his wife, Mary Wakefield, an editor at the Spectator.

A controversial figure and a self-styled political disruptor who helped lead Britain’s pro-Brexit referendum campaign in 2016, he has been blamed for briefing journalists that the UK was seeking herd immunity against the coronavirus. The government and its scientific advisers deny that was ever their strategy.

The government has faced criticism from public health experts for failing to heed their own advice to the public on how to contain the coronavirus through social distancing.

The Scotland secretary, Alister Jack, who sat between Johnson and Hancock at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, confirmed at the weekend that he had a cough and a temperature – common symptoms of coronavirus – and would remain at home, making him the third cabinet minister to shut themselves away.

Parliament has now closed for four weeks as the start of the planned Easter recess was brought forward over concerns about the spread of the virus.

MPs and peers will not return until 21 April at the earliest and even then it night not be business as usual.

The Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, said that “virtual parliament and virtual select committees” could be a possibility as he announced the extended recess on Wednesday evening.


Rajeev Syal

The GuardianTramp

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