London, July 19 (IANS) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak will self-isolate for coming into contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid who tested positive for Covid-19 last week, Downing Street said.
According to the Downing Street’s announcement on Sunday, this marked a U-turn on the pair’s initial decision to avoid self-isolation by taking part in a daily testing pilot scheme, which had caused huge public outrage in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.
Speaking in a video on Twitter after the U-turn, Johnson said: “We did look briefly at the idea of us taking part in the pilot scheme, which allows people to test daily, but I think it’s far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules and that’s why I’m going to be self-isolating until Monday 26 July.
“I know how frustrating it all is, but I really do urge everybody to stick with the programme and take the appropriate course of action when you’re asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.”
Johnson will now conduct meetings remotely from Chequers, his countryside retreat.
Sunak said on Twitter: “Whilst the test and trace pilot is fairly restrictive, allowing only essential government business, I recognise that even the sense that the rules aren’t the same for everyone is wrong.”
After testing positive on July 16, Javid, who replaced Matt Hancock last month, is now self-isolating at home with his family.
Javid said he has had two jabs of the vaccine and his symptoms are mild.
The development came a day ahead of lifting of most Covid-19 restrictions in England on Monday as part of the final step, or Step Four, of England’s roadmap out of the lockdown.
Almost all legal restrictions are to end, including limits on how many people can meet, and nightclubs will reopen, but self-isolation rules will remain.
But scientists have warned that lifting all restrictions at this stage could increase likelihood of dangerous variants.
The country has so far registered 5,455,043 confirmed coronavirus cases and 128,985 deaths.