Boris Johnson has denied a claim he failed to self-isolate after close contact with an aide who caught coronavirus.
The Daily Mirror reported on Tuesday that the prime minister did not quarantine after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the newspaper, a Downing Street videographer who later tested positive was “close” to Johnson as he recorded his official New Year’s message on 31 December 2020.
The Mirror said the staff member told Number 10 and that colleagues who had also been in the room were asked to self-isolate for 10 days, but that Johnson was not among them.
According to government guidance at the time, people who had been within two metres of someone for more than 15 minutes who later tested positive were required to self-isolate.
Watch: Boris Johnson says no new restrictions despite Omicron surge
Downing Street insisted the prime minister had been socially distanced from the videographer.
A spokesperson told the newspaper: “The prime minister was socially distanced from the individual who subsequently tested positive and the duration of the filming was shorter than 15 minutes.
“This has been reaffirmed by those present. He was not advised to isolate as the rules did not require him to do so.”
Five days after recording his new year message, Johnson announced on 5 January last year that England would go into its third national lockdown.
A source told the Mirror that the videographer had not worn a face mask and had stood “face-to-face” with Johnson for about 15 minutes.
Last July, Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak were forced to make a U-turn and self-isolate after health secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for coronavirus.
Initially, Johnson and Sunak had announced they would take part in a pilot daily testing scheme to avoid self-isolating.
Meanwhile, Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, whose data was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown in March 2020, said infection rates may already be plateauing in London and that the Omicron variant numbers have been so high they cannot be sustained “forever”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: “I think I’m cautiously optimistic that infection rates in London in that key 18 to 50 age group – which has been driving the Omicron epidemic – may possibly have plateaued.
“It’s too early to say whether they’re going down yet, but I think… this epidemic has spread so quickly in that group it hasn’t had time to really spread into the older age groups, which are at much greater risk of severe outcomes and hospitalisation, so we may see a different pattern in hospitalisations.
“Hospitalisations are still generally going up across the country and we may see high levels for some weeks.
“I would say that, with an epidemic which has been spreading so quickly and reaching such high numbers, it can’t sustain those numbers forever, so we would expect to see case numbers start to come down in the next week, maybe already coming down in London, but in other regions a week to three weeks.”
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