Whitehall ministers and officials are eagerly awaiting whether they will have to self-isolate on so-called ‘freedom day’ after Sajid Javid was confirmed to have Covid-19.
The Health Secretary announced on Saturday evening that a full PCR test had confirmed the result of an earlier rapid lateral flow test that he had contracted the virus.
He said in a post on his Twitter thread: “My positive result has now been confirmed with a PCR test, so I will continue to self-isolate and work from home.”
The result is the signal for NHS Test and Trace to start tracking down its recent close contacts and asking them to quarantine.
This could potentially mean that some ministers and senior officials will be housebound when lockdown restrictions in England finally end on Monday.
Downing Street declined to comment on suggestions Boris Johnson might be among them after he allegedly had a lengthy meeting with Mr Javid at No.10 on Friday.
The timing could hardly have been worse for the government, with scientists expressing growing concern about ending all statutory legal checks as cases continue to rise.
This foreshadows that “freedom day” will sink into chaos with ministers reduced to welcoming changes from a distance from their living room.
Liberal Democrats said Mr Javid’s positive test underscored the need for the government to rethink its plans.
Health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said: “It shows that no one is safe from this deadly virus.
“By relaxing all the restrictions with the increase in cases, they are experimenting with people’s lives.
“Right now, they are pursuing a survival strategy of the fittest, where the young and the most clinically vulnerable will be left helpless.”
Mr Johnson has repeatedly said he wants the lockdown lifted to be “irreversible”, but in recent days ministers have started to be more cautious.
As England’s social distancing rules end, government guidelines advise wearing face masks in confined spaces such as shops and on public transport, while pubs and bars should only be served. ‘at table.
Meanwhile, the government faces calls from companies to overhaul the NHS Covid app amid growing alarm over numbers of staff missing work after being ‘pinged’ and asked to self-sufficiency. -isolate.
The London Underground became the latest to succumb with the metro line shutting down on Saturday due to a staff shortage in the control room.
Earlier, Mr Javid said he took a lateral flow test on Saturday morning after feeling “a little groggy” the day before.
He said he recorded the positive result, although he received both doses of the vaccine, but was only experiencing “mild” symptoms.
His positive test meant that Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick was to be recruited to replace him in a series of interviews aired with Sunday morning political broadcasts.
Mr Javid was only appointed to the post last month following Matt Hancock’s resignation following CCTV footage showing him kissing an assistant in his office in violation of distancing rules social.
He is seen by Conservative MPs eager for lockdown measures to be significantly more concerned than his predecessor about easing restrictions.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) insisted that no decision had been taken after it was reported that ministers were on the verge of opposing the mass vaccination of adolescents.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that guidelines due to be released on Monday are expected to recommend that the vaccine be offered to vulnerable young people aged 12 to 15 and 17-year-olds who are less than three months past the age of 18.
The newspaper said the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) would have advised against rolling out vaccines to all children until there is new evidence of the risks involved.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “The government will continue to be guided by the advice of JCVI and no decision has been taken by ministers on whether people between the ages of 12 and 17 should be routinely offered. vaccines against Covid-19. “