Virus quarantine complicates a big week for Boris Johnson

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FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2020 file photo British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London. Johnson is self-isolating after being told he came into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Sunday Nov. 15. "He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic," a statement from his office said. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted Monday he is firmly in control of the government, despite having to self-isolate for two weeks because a contact tested positive for the coronavirus.

The quarantine order came at the start of a crucial week in which Johnson is trying to suppress a new surge in U.K. coronavirus infections, quell turmoil within his Conservative Party and secure a trade deal with the European Union.

Johnson said in a video message on Twitter that he was “fit as a butcher's dog” and had no COVID-19 symptoms. He said he would continue to govern using “Zoom and other forms of electronic communication.”

Johnson met with some Conservative lawmakers for about 35 minutes Thursday at his 10 Downing St. office in London. One, Lee Anderson, subsequently developed coronavirus symptoms and tested positive.

Johnson was contacted by the national test-and-trace system by email on Sunday. He said he was following its order to self-isolate for 14 days inside his Downing Street apartment even though he said he is “bursting with antibodies” after recovering from the virus earlier this year.

“It doesn’t matter that we were all doing social distancing. It doesn’t matter that I’m fit as a butcher’s dog, feel great — so many people do in my circumstances,” he said.

Johnson said the fact he had been “pinged” by the test-and-trace network was evidence that the much-criticized system was working. The system routinely fails to contact more than a third of infected people’s contacts.

Four other lawmakers who attended the meeting said they were also in quarantine.