Britain’s Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, is showing mild symptoms of COVID-19, but “otherwise remains in good health,” his office said yesterday.
The 71-year-old and his wife, Camilla, who does not have coronavirus, are currently self-isolating in Scotland, Clarence House said.
“The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus,” it said in a statement, using his official title. “He has been displaying mild symptoms, but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.”
“The Duchess of Cornwall [Camilla] has also been tested, but does not have the virus,” it said. “In accordance with government and medical advice, the prince and the duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland.”
The couple were tested by the National Health Service (NHS) in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, it said.
“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks,” the office added.
Meanwhile, the British government was planning to shut down Parliament for four weeks from last night in the latest attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The UK outbreak is most advanced in London and several politicians have fallen ill, including a health minister.
Parliament had been scheduled to break for Easter on Tuesday next week, but the House of Commons was to close yesterday if — as expected — lawmakers voted for the move, British officials said.
The Commons would reopen on April 21, they said.
The UK’s decision puts it ahead of other countries’ parliaments. While Italy, Germany and Spain have distancing measures in place and only allow limited numbers into their main debating chambers, they have stopped short of closing parliaments altogether.
The move to shut parliament follows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to put the UK on lockdown, ordering people to stay at home unless essential for work, closing schools, restaurants and shops, and banning public gatherings.
However, Johnson’s strategy has been called into question, with some critics saying it does not go far enough.
Construction workers have been going to work on project sites as normal and packed London Underground trains prompted concerns that passengers would be spreading the disease.
Johnson has also faced calls for an urgent acceleration in the program of testing people for the virus.
The government said that it is acceptable for construction work to continue, if workers stand at least 2m apart to reduce the risk of contagion.
“If you can work from home you must do so. If you can’t work from home then you can go into work,” British Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick told the BBC’s Breakfast program yesterday. “A number of employers have concluded that they can’t follow the Public Health England guidance and have chosen to shut down their sites.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said early data showed passenger numbers on the Underground had fallen significantly — down one-third on Tuesday’s levels.
He said tube passenger numbers were already 88 percent down yesterday compared with the same day last year and bus ridership was 76 percent lower.
“However, we still need more Londoners to do the right thing and stay at home,” Khan said.
Almost one-third of London transport staff are sick or self-isolating, he added.
In other news, about 170,000 people signed up within hours of a British government call for volunteers to help those stuck at home due to the coronavirus outbreak, British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said yesterday.
Hancock on Monday unveiled a plan to create a 250,000-strong volunteer force to help deliver groceries and medicines to the most vulnerable people instructed by the government to self-isolate.
This is larger than Britain’s armed forces, which currently stand at just more than 192,000.
“We’re delighted that overnight 170,000 people have signed up to volunteer to support our NHS tackling coronavirus,” Hancock tweeted.
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