British health minister Nadine Dorries tests positive for coronavirus

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Updated: March 11, 2020 5:55 PM

Dorries, 62, the first British MP to be diagnosed with coronavirus, said she has been self-isolating at home, as the government stepped up its preparations to tackle the outbreak.

coronavirus outbreak, UK Health Minister, Nadine Dorries, Downing Street, COVID-19, latest news on coronavirus“Thanks for so many good wishes. It’s been pretty rubbish but I hope I’m over the worst of it now,” she tweeted. (Reuters photo)

UK Health Minister and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has tested positive for coronavirus, raising concerns about the potential spread of the infection among lawmakers as she attended an event hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street last week.

Dorries, 62, the first British MP to be diagnosed with coronavirus, said she has been self-isolating at home, as the government stepped up its preparations to tackle the outbreak. “I can confirm I have tested positive for coronavirus. As soon as I was informed I took all the advised precautions and have been self-isolating at home,” she said in a statement released by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The department said Dorries first showed symptoms last Thursday, the same day she attended an event hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street. Dorries said that health officials had started tracing people she had been in contact with, and the department and her parliamentary office were closely following its advice.

“Thanks for so many good wishes. It’s been pretty rubbish but I hope I’m over the worst of it now,” she tweeted. She said she was worried about her 84-year-old mother who is staying with her.

“More worried about my 84yo mum who is staying with me and began with the cough today. She is being tested tomorrow. Keep safe and keep washing those hands, everyone,” tweeted the MP for Bedfordshire.

“Really sorry to hear Nadine has tested positive for coronavirus. She has done the right thing by self isolating at home, and both NHS and PHE staff have been brilliant. We all wish her well as she recovers,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted.

Opposition Labour’s Rachael Maskell revealed she had been advised by the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) 111 helpline to self-isolate following a meeting with Dorries last Thursday, even though she is displaying no symptoms of COVID-19.

“Everybody has got to take the advice of Public Health England and therefore I trust the Prime Minister has also contacted NHS 111,” Maskell said, in reference to Dorries’ Downing Street visit. Six people with the virus have died in the UK, with a total of 382 cases so far. One of them was an elderly member of the Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna Temple in Watford, north-west London, and has not been formally named.

“In regards to our recent announcement regarding a member of our congregation testing positive for coronavirus, we respect the privacy of those concerned and are not in a position to comment further on individual cases,” a spokesperson said.

“Bhaktivedanta Manor took the decision to close the temple and cancel our festivals in the interests of protecting our congregation and the wider community. We have followed due process and advice from Public Health England, and can confirm Bhaktivedanta Manor will be open to the public as normal from Wednesday 11 March,” the spokesperson said.

The UK Foreign Office is advising anyone arriving in the UK from Italy since Monday evening to self-isolate for 14 days and has warned Britons against all but essential travel to Italy, which is experiencing the worst outbreak outside China.

Italy has introduced strict travel restrictions, with people being told to stay home, seek permission for essential travel, and give justification if they want to leave the country. Meanwhile, the Bank of England has announced an emergency cut in interest rates to shore up the economy amid the outbreak.

Policymakers reduced rates from 0.75 per cent to 0.25 per cent, taking borrowing costs back down to the lowest level in history. It comes as UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak tables his maiden Budget in Parliament on Wednesday, which will also include measures to fight the virus besides huge infrastructure spending plans for the long-term.

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