For Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this was supposed to be a critical week to reset his government after a tumultuous round of infighting that led to the abrupt ouster of his most influential adviser, Dominic Cummings.
Instead, Mr. Johnson began a 14-day quarantine in his Downing Street residence on Monday after being exposed to a member of Parliament who tested positive for the coronavirus.
The prime minister insisted he was “fit as a butcher’s dog” and was merely heeding the rules of Britain’s test-and-trace program. But Mr. Johnson’s enforced isolation will hobble his plan to regain momentum with public appearances and policy announcements after days of corrosive palace intrigue among his closest advisers.
The prime minister’s second close call with the virus — last April, he was hospitalized with a severe case of Covid-19 — deepens the sense of a government that cannot seem to get out of its own way.
Mr. Johnson’s exposure to the virus this time came during a meeting with Conservative lawmakers, one of whom, Lee Anderson, later developed symptoms and tested positive. A photo showed the two men standing barely three feet apart — neither wearing a mask — which raised questions about whether Downing Street practices proper social distancing, even after the outbreak that infected Mr. Johnson in March.
As a recovered patient, Mr. Johnson said his body was “bursting with antibodies.” He did not broach the risk of re-infection, which, while possible, is rare.
During his self-isolation Mr. Johnson plans to work from his apartment, which is above 11 Downing Street. He will also have access to his office at No. 10 next door without walking through parts of the building where others work.
Mr. Johnson will maintain a full schedule of events, conducted remotely, and hopes to use a video link to take part in Prime Minister’s Questions, his weekly grilling by the leader of the opposition in the House of Commons.
In other developments around the world:
The authorities in South Australia have ordered 4,000 people to quarantine as the Australian state reported five new cases of the virus on Tuesday. The outbreak in the capital city of Adelaide was traced to a worker at a hotel where coronavirus patients are quarantined.
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