The unions further added that many community pharmacies have significant challenges with establishing social distancing for safe working in a service that requires most members of the team to be in close proximity to patients. Employees, locums and patients all need to know that community pharmacy is a safe place (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Twitter on Friday he has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating at home with mild symptoms.

“Following medical advice, I was advised to test for #Coronavirus. I‘ve tested positive. Thankfully my symptoms are mild and I’m working from home & self-isolating,” he said. 

Less than two hours earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he too had tested positive for the virus.

Johnson said he would still lead the government’s response to the accelerating outbreak.

“I’ve taken a test. That has come out positive,” Johnson said in a video statement broadcast on Twitter. “I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus. That’s to say – a temperature and a persistent cough.

“So I am working from home. I’m self-isolating,” Johnson said. “Be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus.”

Johnson, 55, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday – a day after he answered at the prime minister’s weekly question-and-answer session in parliament’s House of Commons chamber.

It was not immediately clear how many Downing Street staff and senior ministers would now need to isolate given that many have had contact with Johnson over recent days and weeks.

Previously the government has said that Johnson had the option to delegate to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab if needed.

“The prime minister was tested for coronavirus on the personal advice of England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

“The test was carried out in No 10 by NHS staff and the result of the test was positive,” the spokesman said.

So far, 578 people in the United Kingdom have died after testing positive for coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 11,658. The UK toll is the seventh worst in the world, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the United States, according to a Reuters tally.

Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne, tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week but is in good health and is now self-isolating at his residence in Scotland with mild symptoms along with his wife Camilla, who tested negative, his office said.

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