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UK PM's top aide in self-isolation with mild COVID-19 symptoms


Press Trust of India London
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide, Dominic Cummings, has gone into self-isolation after developing mild symptoms of coronavirus over the weekend, according to UK media reports.
Cummings, the UK PM's senior-most adviser, is the latest among the top rung in government to be hit by COVID-19 after Johnson himself was tested and went into self-isolation last week, followed soon after by UK health secretary Matt Hancock.
It remains unconfirmed whether Cummings has been tested for the deadly virus yet but, according to reports, he is working from home and remains in contact with the Downing Street team.
He was last caught on television news cameras leaving 10 Downing Street soon after Johnson had announced his COVID-19 diagnosis to the British public.
Cummings, 48, is the man behind the victorious Vote Leave campaign for the UK's exit from the European Union (EU) and has also been credited with aspects of Johnson's landslide election win in the December 2019 General Election.
He is believed to have developed symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough, in line with the mild symptoms experienced by Johnson.
"I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this," Johnson, 55, had said in his video message on Twitter last Friday.
Since then, Hancock posted a similar video message to say he would be working from home as he fights his mild symptoms.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack is another Cabinet minister who went into self-isolation with symptoms, as did England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty -- who had been leading the government's charge against the pandemic alongside Johnson.
The latest addition to the list of the government's top team developing symptoms of the deadly virus will once again raise concerns around social distancing rules imposed UK-wide earlier last week not being followed stringently enough within political quarters.
Senior Indian-origin UK Cabinet members, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Priti Patel, are among those who have been working in close proximity to the UK PM and his top team.
Johnson's pregnant fiance, Carrie Symonds, had moved out of Downing Street and is said to be self-isolating in her flat in south London.
Among other senior UK figures afflicted by the virus include Prince Charles, who continues to work from his home in Balmoral, Scotland.
The 71-year-old heir to the British throne had tested positive for COVID-19 last week but was said to be in "good spirits".
His 93-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, has been based at Windsor Castle for some time with husband Prince Philip, 98. The monarch has conducted her weekly meetings with the UK PM via telephone from there.
The UK remains under a stay-at-home lockdown with strict social distancing rules in force as the death toll from the virus hit 1,228, with the number of confirmed cases pegged at 19,522.

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First Published: Mar 30 2020 | 4:42 PM IST

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