UK Government Minister Diagnosed With Coronavirus

WYBOSTON, ENGLAND - JULY 13: Boris Johnson (C) with Conservative MP Nadine Dorries (left) and supporters before the Conservative leadership hustings on July 13, 2019 in Wyboston, England. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are the remaining candidates in contention for the Conservative Party Leadership and thus Prime Minister of the …
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Nadine Dorries, a health minister in Boris Johnson’s UK government has been diagnosed with Coronavirus, sparking concern about the hundreds of people she met in Westminster — including the Prime Minister and other top government figures — in the time before she was tested.

The health minister first fell unwell on Friday, but the test for Coronavirus didn’t come back until Monday evening. 62-year-old Nadine Dorries, the Member of Parliament for Mid-Bedfordshire, has self-isolated at home but it is not known how many members of the public and political leaders the politician will have met in the term she was carrying the disease.

The junior minister has met with “hundreds” of people including the Prime Minister, and attended a 10 Downing Street reception on Thursday to mark International Women’s Day, The Times reports. In a twist of irony, Dorries first felt ill as she was signing a government document which made coronavirus a “notifiable disease”, giving it official recognition in terms of sick-leave and companies being able to make insurance claims over its impacts.

The diagnosis of Dorries follows a pattern seen across Europe of government ministers falling ill from coronavirus, developments which may reflect their position in society and working patterns — frequently meeting large numbers of the public in their home region but also associating with a well-travelled and cosmopolitan set in Westminster. In Italy, several politicians have been diagnosed with Coronavirus including the leader of the nation’s Democratic Party, and a councillor who has since died.

The French culture minister was also diagnosed with Coronavirus Monday, stating he was experiencing “classic flu symptoms”. A fellow member of the French Parliament was less fortunate, having been hospitalised due to the severity of his symptoms. Several military commanders have been infected across Europe, including Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli and members of his staff at a U.S. Army base in Germany, and General Jaroslaw Mika, the commander of Poland’s armed forces.

Six people have died in the United Kingdom from Coronavirus, which has seen 382 cases nationwide. This is much lower than other European nations with a comparable sized population and level of economic development including Italy which has 10,149 cases, France with 1,784, and Spain with 1,695. Even Switzerland which has a population a fraction of the size of Britain’s has more cases, at 491 — a reflection of its close proximity and open borders with Italy, France, and Germany.

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