British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not isolate despite his health secretary testing positive for COVID-19

  • Boris Johnson was exposed to COVID-19 in a meeting with Health Secretary Sajid Javid. 
  • NHS policy means that he should isolate for 10 days – but Johnson is part of a pilot study, meaning he can continue to work.
  • This has sparked outrage at a point where over half a million people have been told to self-isolate.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be self-isolating after being exposed to COVID-19, Downing Street has confirmed. 

On Friday, July 16th, Johnson had an in-person meeting with Sajid Javid, the newly-appointed UK health secretary. 

The following day, Javid took to Twitter to announce that he had tested positive for COVID-19. 

On the morning of 18 July, Johnson was then “pinged” by the NHS COVID-19 app – a contact tracing app used to identify those exposed to Covid and therefore must isolate to stop the spread. 

So, according to UK policy, Johnson should isolate for 10 days after this exposure. However, Downing Street has confirmed that the Prime Minister will be going into his office to continue working for “essential Government business.”

This exception is, says Downing Street, due to the pair taking part in a pilot program, where people replace self-isolation with daily rapid tests. 

This also applies to Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the UK finance minister.

The pilot study rules mean that isolation can only be broken to go to work. Personal or leisure activities cannot be undertaken until the 10 day isolation period is finished. 

Several workplaces – including 10 Downing Street – are participating in this pilot to see how the UK workforce can operate whilst the virus continues to circulate. 

This announcement has caused a significant backlash on social media, with the topic of self-isolation already a sore subject with the British public, with more than 500,000 people told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace in the last week alone. 

In reaction to the news, #oneruleforthem is trending on Twitter, with people furious that the Prime Minister can bypass regulations that impact the public. 

One teacher tweeted that her school class had to miss 10 days of school due to isolation following a COVID exposure.


A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Insider: “The Prime Minister and Chancellor have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace as contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid.

“They will be participating in the daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue to work from Downing Street. 

“They will be conducting only essential government business during this period.”

This is the latest case in a string of Covid-related controversies involving the most senior of the UK Government. 

On June 26, then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock stepped down from his position after leaked footage showed him kissing his aide in his office whilst Covid restrictions banned such intimate contact. 

Last year, the senior advisor to Boris Johnson – Dominic Cummings – sparked national fury when it was revealed that he drove over 200 miles in a national lockdown whilst being positive for COVID-19. 

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