In just two days, more than 600,000 people signed up as volunteers to help the National Health Service, as well as 1.5 million elderly and vulnerable people, whom the government has urged to quarantine themselves for 12 weeks. On Thursday evening, tens of thousands of Britons stood on balconies or at open windows, clapping for the nation’s doctors and nurses.
At 8 p.m., Mr. Johnson stepped out of his office in Downing Street to take part in the public demonstration of appreciation. But he made a point of standing a healthy distance from the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, who also took part.
Mr. Johnson hailed the spirit of the British people in his video, saying “we’re going to beat it, and we’re going to beat it together.”
Now, though, he faces the grinding reality of being a coronavirus patient. After he came down with a cough and a high temperature in the late afternoon on Thursday, he consulted Professor Whitty, the chief medical officer, and was tested for the virus. He received the positive result at about midnight.
Mr. Johnson moved from his office at No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence, to the adjacent No. 11, where the chancellor, Mr. Sunak, normally works. This allows Mr. Johnson to live and work at the same address, since he already occupied the apartment above the chancellor’s office.
That office is equipped with video conference facilities and Mr. Johnson is working normally, a spokesman said. On Friday morning, he took part in a daily emergency cabinet meeting remotely from his new quarters. Mr. Johnson plans to stay in isolation for seven days, with his meals left at the door.
Downing Street gave no information about the whereabouts of Mr. Johnson’s 32-year-old partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child. The couple announced their engagement last month. She is also in isolation, according to a photo she posted on social media.