British PM Boris Johnson won't quarantine, office says, after aide tests Covid-19 positive

Boris Johnson (centre) visiting the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan near Kincardine, Scotland, on Aug 4, 2021.
Boris Johnson (centre) visiting the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan near Kincardine, Scotland, on Aug 4, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (NYTIMES) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain will not have to quarantine, even though a member of the team that accompanied him to Scotland this week tested positive for Covid-19 during the trip, his office said.

A Downing Street spokesman said on Saturday (Aug 7) that the prime minister had not been in close contact with the aide.

"The prime minister regularly visits communities across the UK, and all aspects of visits are carried out in line with Covid guidance," the spokesman said. "The prime minister has not come into close contact with anyone who has tested positive."

The declaration that Johnson would not quarantine - even as British news reports said that the person who tested positive and several other officials have - threatened to revive a controversy over government officials' adherence to Britain's test-and-trace system.

Each week under the system, hundreds of thousands of people who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive have had to isolate themselves.

Johnson and his finance minister, Rishi Sunak, proposed using a pilot testing programme last month to avoid quarantining after a Cabinet minister tested positive, but they reversed course within hours in the face of a public outcry.

On Friday, news organisations including The Guardian and CNN reported that the team member was with Johnson on Wednesday, the first day of the trip.

Several British news outlets have reported that the person, a member of the prime minister's advance team, accompanied Johnson on a visit to a police college on Wednesday and was aboard a flight with him, although at the opposite end of a plane cabin.