Boris Johnson in isolation after coming into contact with Covid-19 sufferer

PM ‘full of beans’ ahead of crucial reset week for government

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he feels “as fit as a butcher’s dog” as he enters 14 days of self-isolation after coming into contact with an MP who has coronavirus.

It throws plans for a reset of his government into disarray after a week of turmoil in Number 10 that ended with the resignation of chief aide Dominic Cummings.

Mr Johnson, who is working from his Downing Street flat, will be cut off from his staff and unable to make public appearances at a critical time.

Brexit negotiations are coming down to the wire and Mr Johnson is trying to shore up support among MPs with key announcements including the opening of two new Covid-19 "mega-labs" that will double daily testing capacity to more than one million.

The prime minister said on Twitter on Monday morning that he still needed to self-isolate even though he was "bursting with antibodies" after developing the disease in March.

Mr Johnson was contacted by NHS Test and Trace on Sunday after Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, who attended a 35-minute meeting in Downing Street on Thursday, tested positive for Covid-19. Four other Conservative MPs are also self-isolating.

It has raised new questions over Downing Street’s anti-virus measures – neither Mr Johnson nor Mr Anderson was pictured wearing a mask.

In a text message to Tory MPs on Sunday night, Mr Johnson said: “Evening, folks – the good news is that NHS Test and Trace continues to improve. The bad news is that I have been pinged!”

The British leader spent about 35 minutes in a meeting with Conservative MPs on Thursday morning. One of the MPs present, Lee Anderson, right, since tested positive for the virus. Lee Anderson official Facebook

He continued: “I must now self-isolate for 14 days, and I will! It doesn’t matter that we were all following the guidance and socially distancing. It doesn’t matter that I feel fine – better than ever – or that my body is bursting with antibodies because I have already had the damn thing.

“The rules are the rules and they are there to stop the spread of the disease.”

He added that his period of self-isolation would not “slow me down”.

Mr Hancock said Mr Johnson was “full of beans” as the government tries to find a way out of coronavirus lockdown.

The health secretary said the government was working with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to develop uniform rules across the country ahead of Christmas.

He revealed the expanded testing scheme may help make Christmas “as normal as possible”.

The new mega-labs – one in Leamington Spa in central England and the other in Scotland – will double the current testing capacity of 520,000 tests a day with each site capable of turning around 300,000 results a day.

The government has recently been piloting a mass testing programme in Liverpool using rapid swab tests that do not need to be sent to a lab.

But the bulk of the UK’s tests still need to be analysed in a lab.

Tests can take up to 48 hours to achieve a result but the government hopes to speed up the process through automation and robotics.

FILE - In this Nov. 11, 2020 file photo Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a visit to a tesco.com distribution centre in London. Johnson is self-isolating after being told he came into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Sunday Nov. 15. "He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic," a statement from his office said. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Meanwhile, the UK signalled that it will not back down in negotiations with the EU as Brexit talks enter another crucial week.

Officials from both sides said the coming days will be pivotal as they each try to overcome key barriers to reaching a trade deal.

The urgency is mounting as Britain’s departure from the EU’s single market on December 31 fast approaches.

Because both sides need time to ratify and implement any accord, they need to strike a deal weeks before then.

Without one, millions of consumers will face the return of quotas and tariffs for the first time in a generation.

Mr Hancock said of Brexit negotiations: “Our red lines haven’t changed and we’re preparing for whatever the outcome is.”

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