The Prime Minister, Chancellor and several senior civil servants may be forced to go into self-isolation after Sajid Javid tested positive for Covid.
The Health Secretary received a positive result from a lateral flow test that he took after feeling “a bit groggy” on Friday night. He is now self-isolating at home with his family after receiving a positive result from the more accurate PCR test on Saturday.
In a tweet on Saturday night, Mr Javid wrote: “My positive result has now been confirmed by PCR test, so I will continue to isolate and work from home.”
On Tuesday, Mr Javid was visiting a care home in Streatham, south London, and earlier that day he was in parliament, mixing with MPs and fellow Cabinet ministers.
Mr Javid, who has had both jabs of a vaccine, said on a video he posted to his Twitter account: “I’m grateful that I’ve had two jabs of the vaccine and so far my symptoms are very mild.”
This morning I tested positive for Covid. I’m waiting for my PCR result, but thankfully I have had my jabs and symptoms are mild.
Please make sure you come forward for your vaccine if you haven’t already. pic.twitter.com/NJYMg2VGzT
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 17, 2021
During his visit to Aashna House care home – which has a 100 per cent vaccination rate among staff and residents – Mr Javid said he wanted to “thank care home staff” and “staff across the country for the incredible work they have been doing.” The care home said yesterday that no one had tested positive after Mr Javid’s visit.
On Friday, Mr Javid held talks with Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, in Downing Street, over options for reforming the social care system.
The Prime Minister and Chancellor were waiting to be contacted by NHS Test and Trace last night, to be told whether they need to isolate. Both men could potentially take part in a pilot scheme that would allow them to take daily Covid tests rather than self-isolate. Downing Street is formally enrolled in the pilot.
The Sunday Telegraph understands that, in practice, this means that anyone with access to the Downing Street estate, including Mr Sunak and his aides, could be eligible to participate in the pilot. But it is understood that the decision about eligibility of each individual is down to Test and Trace.
Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, used the pilot to avoid remaining at home for 10 days last month.
Under the guidelines, anyone who came into prolonged contact with Mr Javid in the 48 hours before he developed symptoms would have to self-isolate.
A government source said: “I don’t see how half the Cabinet doesn’t end up in isolation by the end of the week.”
By late Saturday afternoon, Mr Javid had pulled out of a number of pre-booked media interviews he’d been due to give on Sunday morning, in order to abide by isolation guidance.
Timeline: Sajid Javid’s week
The setback for the new Health Secretary comes as thousands of Britons are being "pinged" each day by the NHS app after being in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, threatening to cause crippling staff shortages across industry, transport, retail and leisure sectors.
There are fears the same could now happen across senior branches of Government and Whitehall if more than one minister is forced to isolate at home.
Dan Rosenfield, Mr Johnson’s chief of staff, was among a series of senior figures self-isolating this weekend, The Telegraph understands.
Mr Javid, who represents the Bromsgrove constituency, replaced Matt Hancock as Health Secretary less than three weeks ago.
Journalists thought Sajid Javid looked ‘a little under the weather’
Emerging from Number 10 on Friday morning, Sajid Javid got into his official car to be chauffeured away, write Steve Bird and Patrick Sawer.
The Health Secretary glanced at the television crews penned in opposite the famous black door. Some reporters commented to each other that the 51-year-old looked "a little under the weather", but put it down to the long meeting about social care he had had with the Prime Minister and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor.
But on Saturday morning, Mr Javid took a lateral flow test that proved positive – revealing that the grogginess he had complained about the previous evening could be a symptom of Covid.
Test and Trace officials will be trying to establish exactly who he had come into contact with, raising the prospect of self-isolation at the highest echelons of the Government.
Mr Javid’s contacts will include those who accompanied him in his official car during his busy week. As a former Home Secretary, he still has police protection officers travelling with him and also has a team of special advisers who help on policy and handle his media strategy. He may also have come into contact with health and social care ministers.
Meanwhile, there could be concerns that, immediately after that meeting, Mr Johnson took part in a photo opportunity outside Number 10.
Mr Javid maintains strict Covid precautions. He is never without his mask, something he has said he would continue to use out of courtesy for others even if they were no longer mandatory on public transport.
Last week, he was filmed wearing the mask and bumping fists with staff and guests at the south London care home. It is understood he took a lateral flow test before visiting, in line with government guidelines.
Asked whether the home had been contacted by anyone in relation to the visit, a staff member told The Telegraph on Saturday: "Yes, no one is positive. We did lateral flow tests and all of them are negative, but they are just lateral flows. Just now I’ve booked PCR tests that we can do tomorrow."
It is hoped that, because Mr Javid’s symptoms kicked in on Friday, there is little chance he would have posed any threat four days earlier.