Sajid Javid, the UK's new health secretary, tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of the final restrictions being lifted.
The health minister of the United Kingdom has confirmed that he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, says he tested positive for HIV using a rapid test and is now self-isolating while awaiting the results of a more accurate PCR test.
"I'm grateful that I've received two vaccine jabs and that my symptoms have been very mild thus far," Javid said Saturday.
Javid succeeded Matt Hancock, who resigned last month after violating social distancing rules.
While Javid is not the first politician to test positive, he is the most recent. His predecessor, Hancock, became ill with COVID-19 early in last year's pandemic, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent several days in intensive care with the virus in April 2020.
However, the news of Javid's infection comes just days before the final legal restrictions on social distancing and masks in England are lifted on July 19, dubbed "Freedom Day" by some.
Johnson is adamant about reopening the country, despite daily case counts exceeding 50,000.
Other parts of the UK — Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland — are emerging from lockdown more cautiously.
Dr Chris Whitty, the British government's chief medical adviser, warned late Thursday that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is doubling approximately every three weeks and could reach "quite frightening numbers" if the current trend continues.
However, one change that will not take place on Monday is quarantine-free travel between the UK and France.
British tourists and the travel industry are outraged after the UK Government reversed a plan to ease travel restrictions to France just two days before the change was scheduled to take effect, citing concerns about a coronavirus variant.
According to the UK government, visitors from France must self-isolate for ten days after entering the country, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The announcement comes just days after the government announced that fully vaccinated UK residents will no longer face quarantine upon arrival from European Union member states and dozens of other countries on Monday, July 19.
According to British health officials, France is being singled out due to outbreaks of the beta variant, which is believed to be more vaccine resistant than other strains.
Cases of the virus are increasing in the UK, driven by the highly infectious delta variant, despite a high level of vaccination – recently reaching a six-month high.
On Friday, the United Kingdom reported over 51,000 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily total since January. According to government data released Friday, 3964 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number since late March.
Along with the increase in hospitalizations, daily viral deaths have reached levels not seen since March. Friday saw the addition of 49 virus-related deaths, bringing the UK's total to 128,642, seventh highest in the world.