Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he is self-isolating after coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
The West Suffolk MP said on Tuesday that he was alerted by the NHS app “last night”, having led a Downing Street press conference on Monday evening.
“Last night I was pinged by the NHS coronavirus app, so that means I will be self-isolating at home, not leaving the house at all until Sunday,” he said in a video on his Twitter.
“This self-isolation is perhaps the most important part of all the social distancing because I know from the app that I’ve been in close contact with somebody who’s tested positive, and this is how we break the chains of transmission.
“I’ve got to work from home for the next six days and together, by doing this, by following this and all the other panoply of rules that we’ve had to put in place, we can get through this and beat this virus.”
He did not say what time he received the order to self-isolate but a source close to the Health Secretary said it was after the No 10 press conference where he appeared alongside NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis and Public Health England’s Susan Hopkins.
Mr Hancock must quarantine despite having tested positive for Covid-19 in March, announcing his diagnosis shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed his own.
It is understood that the Health Secretary was given the duration of his latest isolation period by the NHS app.
The health service’s website says the isolation period includes the day the individual was last in contact with the person who tested positive and the next 10 full days.
Mr Hancock said his isolation period ends at 11.59pm on Saturday evening, suggesting his contact with the individual was on Wednesday.
Former chancellor George Osborne said: “It’s a peculiarly British trait that we rightly make vaccinating millions of health workers a priority, but we can’t spare a single dose for the Health Secretary leading the response to the pandemic.”
But Downing Street rejected suggestions that Mr Hancock should receive a jab ahead of his place on the priority list.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We don’t think it’s right that the PM or other members of Cabinet take the vaccine in place of somebody who is at higher clinical risk.”
He also said that Mr Hancock was following the rules and exercising when the Cabinet minister was seen in a park, clutching a rugby ball, in London over the weekend.
“We’ve been clear that everybody needs to follow the guidance and it remains the case that people are allowed outside to exercise, which is what I believe Matt Hancock was doing,” the spokesman said.