LONDON – UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he tested positive for Covid-19, weeks after being tapped to lead the government’s response to the pandemic and on the cusp of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s coronavirus “Freedom Day.”
In a video posted on his Twitter feed, Mr Javid said he was feeling “a bit groggy” on Friday (July 16) night and took a lateral flow test Saturday morning that gave a positive result. He’s now waiting for laboratory confirmation from a PCR test.
Mr Javid, 51, who said he’s fully vaccinated, was self-isolating at home with his family. He said his symptoms were “very mild.”
So-called “breakthrough infections” have been experienced by some of the billions of people who’ve been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
In most cases, vaccines have prevented severe illness and death.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was among the first to respond to Mr Javid’s news, replying in a tweet, “pleased to hear the difference having both jabs can make,” in apparent reference to the health minister’s mild symptoms.
Mr Javid’s infection may put a damper on the lifting of remaining Covid restrictions in England on Monday.
Mr Johnson is pushing ahead with the opening with Mr Javid’s backing, even as new cases surge and the government swerves on its travel guidance.
Daily cases reported in the UK on Friday topped 50,000 for the first time since early January.
The government expects cases to possibly top 100,000 by next month as the Delta variant, first identified in India, spreads rapidly.
More than 65 per cent of adults have received both Covid shots, leaving unvaccinated young people particularly vulnerable to the Delta variant.
Late Friday, the UK reimposed quarantine rules on travellers returning to England from France – adding a new “Amber Plus” category to the current colour-coded system.
The government cited the “persistent presence” in France of the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.
Mr Johnson’s Freedom Day aspirations have already been undermined by the rising level with cases and knock-on effects like the huge number of UK workers told to isolate after being contacted by the government’s tracing app.
Businesses from stores to car factories reported disruptions this week after more than half a million people were “pinged” by the country’s coronavirus app.
Messaging also remains inconsistent, with British airlines and airports saying on Friday that passengers must continue to wear face masks after government requirements give way to a more voluntary regime.
The minister on Tuesday posted photographs of himself meeting residents and staff at a care home in Streatham, south London.
He spoke in Parliament the same day, taking questions on health and social care.
Mr Javid, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer was named to the health post on June 26 after Mr Matt Hancock resigned.
Mr Hancock quit after he was caught embracing a senior aide in his office, in breach of the social distancing guidelines he helped to create.