UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries tested positive for the coronavirus. She is the first British parliamentarian to test positive for the disease.
Dorries attended a reception at 10 Downing Street, including a reception with Prime Minister Boris Johnson shortly before she fell ill. She interacted with hundreds of people in Parliament and became ill on Friday and her diagnosis was confirmed on Monday night.
“As soon as I was informed, I took all the recommended precautions and isolated myself at home. Public Health has started detailed contact tracking and the department and my parliamentary office are closely taking to their advice, she said in a statement.
”The UK has a total of 382 confirmed cases. The UK was already moving out of the “contain” phase, where the government is trying to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to the “delay” phase, where the government accepts that the disease will be wide-spread.
Meanwhile, NHS England said it was increasing its ability to test people for infection, with the number of cases increasing.
Confirmation of any positive test results will also be speeded up, with most people receiving a test result within 24 hours.
The 62-year-old, who started her career as a nurse, later tweeted that it had been “pretty rubbish but I hope I’m over the worst of it now”.
But she added that she was worried about the 84-year-old mother who was with her and started coughing on Tuesday. It is not known how many meetings Dorries attended in Westminster or in her constituency in the past few days.
The Health Department confirmed that it has isolated itself since Friday, but No. 10 did not comment on whether Boris Johnson had been tested or whether he will now be tested.
All the health ministers, including health secretary Matt Hancock, will be tested for the virus, along with other officials who have contacted Dorries.
Public Health England has conducted more than 25,000 coronavirus tests across the UK. NHS scientific director Prof Dame Sue Hill said the health service is preparing to deal with more cases.
“All hospitals across the country and the health professionals who administer them now plan to actively respond with flexibility to manage new demands.” Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to implement their own testing services, but there will be some capacity shared between countries, depending on the need.