U.K.'s Boris Johnson becomes first world leader to confirm coronavirus diagnosis

By Haley Ott

/ CBS News

London — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming the first world leader to confirm a diagnosis.

"I've developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus. That's to say, a temperature and a persistent cough. And on the advice of the chief medical officer, I've taken a test that has come out positive. So I am working from home, I'm self isolating, and that's entirely the right thing to do," he said in a video message posted to his official Twitter account.

Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.

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. #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/9Te6aFP0Ri

— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020

Johnson said he would be able to continue carrying out his duties despite his illness.

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"Be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fight back against coronavirus," he said.

Johnson thanked everyone in the U.K. working on the response to the epidemic, stressing the way to get through it was to follow government advice to stay at home.

"So thank you to everybody who's doing what I'm doing, working from home to stop the spread of the virus from household to household. That's the way we're going to win. We're going to beat it and we're going to beat it together. Stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives."

If Johnson becomes too ill to carry on his duties, it has been agreed that his foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, will take over until he recovers.

Johnson has been delivering daily press conferences to the nation, which, until recently, saw him gathering with journalists and top medical and government officials. Over the past few days, the government has started hosting the press conference remotely, however, with journalists asking questions via video link to officials at Downing Street.

Queen Elizabeth, who holds regular weekly meetings with every Prime Minister, did so with Johnson over the phone this past Wednesday, according to the Royal Family twitter account. The palace said the last time the Queen saw Jonson in person was on March 11, and that she remains in good health.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

First published on March 27, 2020 / 7:50 AM

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Haley Ott

Haley Ott is the digital reporter/producer at CBS News in London.