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UK PM in self-isolation after meeting lawmaker with Covid-19

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was perfectly well after coming into contact with someone with Covid-19 and will drive the government forward via Zoom while he self-isolates for two weeks in Downing Street.

Mr Johnson's latest brush with the coronavirus comes after a tumultuous week in which his most senior adviser, arch Brexiter Dominic Cummings, was ousted after clashing with a rival faction led by his fiancee and his new spokesman.

From a flat above Downing Street, Mr Johnson will have to grapple with Europe's deadliest Covid-19 outbreak and master the delicate diplomacy needed to clinch a last-minute Brexit trade agreement within days.

"I'm fit as a butcher's dog - feel great," Mr Johnson, 56, said in a tweet. "I'm bursting with antibodies. Plenty more to say via Zoom of course and other means of electronic communication."

Mr Johnson announced on Sunday that he had been told by the NHS Test & Trace scheme to self-isolate for two weeks after it was confirmed that a lawmaker, Mr Lee Anderson, who attended a 35-minute meeting with him on Thursday, had tested positive.

Mr Johnson had been hoping to seize back the initiative after last week's drama. After Mr Cummings' ouster, weekend newspapers were full of reports of bitter rows between rival factions in Downing Street that painted a picture of a government in chaos.

In an attempt to show he was not letting the upheaval distract him, his office said Mr Johnson would make a string of "critical announcements" over the next two weeks on issues from green policy to a return to regional Covid-19 rules from Dec 2.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that Britain expects to start rolling out the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine just before Christmas if it is declared safe and effective.

But he added that the majority would most likely be vaccinated next year. Asked how many vaccines Britain would need, he said it depended on how effective they were at preventing transmission. - REUTERS

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