US President Donald Trump is showing “mild symptoms” of coronavirus after he and first lady Melania tested positive.
Mr Trump announced his diagnosis in a tweet in the early hours of Friday, following a positive test from one of his closest aides.
Hope Hicks returned a positive test on Thursday, with Mr Trump later tweeting: “@FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Mr Trump, 74, is now experiencing “mild symptoms” of the virus which can notably cause fever, a cough and a loss of smell or taste.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was admitted to intensive care following his own positive test, has expressed his best wishes to Mr and Mrs Trump.
He said: “Well, obviously, I think we all want to send our best wishes to the president and the first lady, and I have done that this morning as you can imagine, and I’m sure that they will both stage a very strong recovery.”
Mr Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis is the latest among world leaders, with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier also falling ill.
While waiting for the results of his test following Ms Hicks’ diagnosis, Mr Trump said he had found it difficult to socially distance while meeting members of the armed forces.
He told Fox News: “It’s very hard when you’re with soldiers, when you’re with airmen, when you’re with the marines, and with the police officers, I’m with them so much.
“And when they come over to you it’s very hard to say ‘stay back, stay back’ you know, it’s a tough kind of a situation, it’s a terrible thing.”
He added: “They come over to you and they want to hug you and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them and you get close and things happen.”
Meanwhile in the UK, new figures showed the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the country still remains above 1, and is continuing to creep up.
The data released by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1.3 and 1.6.
Last week, the R number was between 1.2 and 1.5.
Sage has cautioned that while there are some early indications that suggest the growth of the epidemic might be slowing, it is too early to draw firm conclusions.
The scientific advisers said “it is still highly likely that the epidemic is growing exponentially across the country” and more data is needed to accurately assess recent changes in coronavirus transmission.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also released on Friday said an estimated one in 500 people were infected with coronavirus in England between September 18 and 24.
The developments came as SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon called on Margaret Ferrier to quit as an MP after she made a “monumental” error of judgment by taking a train from London to Scotland when she knew she had tested positive for Covid-19.
Ms Ferrier admitted breaking self-isolation rules by travelling to Parliament after experiencing symptoms and then taking a train to Glasgow having tested positive.
Her party swiftly suspended her after the disclosure but leaders Ms Sturgeon and Ian Blackford faced questions over what they knew and when amid anger at the MP’s actions.
Ms Sturgeon said on Friday she had made it “crystal clear” Ms Ferrier should resign her seat.
The row comes on the eve of new local lockdowns which will be imposed in the north of England.
More than a third of the UK will be under heightened restrictions when Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough enter local lockdowns on Saturday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced new restrictions on north-west England, similar to those imposed in the North East earlier this week.
He told MPs that action was needed with there being 268 cases per 100,000 people in Liverpool.
It will be illegal for households to mix indoors there, as well as in Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, from Saturday.
Local lockdowns came into force in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham in North Wales from 6pm on Thursday.
Proposals being considered in Whitehall could see a simpler, three-tiered approach to local restrictions, but these have yet to be finalised.