Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau self isolates as wife Sophie tests positive for coronavirus

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his office has announced.

It said Sophie Grégoire Trudeau - who had returned to Canada on Wednesday night from a speaking engagement in Britain - was feeling well and would remain in isolation.

"The Prime Minister is in good health with no symptoms. As a precautionary measure and following the advice of doctors, he will be in isolation for a planned period of 14 days," the statement added.

His office said the doctor's advice to the prime minister is to continue daily activities while self-monitoring, given that he is exhibiting no symptoms himself.

“Also on the advice of doctors, he will not be tested at this stage since he has no symptoms. For the same reason, doctors say there is no risk to those who have been in contact with him recently,” the statement said.

The office said he would resume his duties Friday.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

Trudeau's wife issued a statement thanking those who have reached out.

"Although I'm experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of the virus, I will be back on my feet soon," she said. “Being in quarantine at home is nothing compared to other Canadian families who might be going through this and for those facing more serious health concerns.”

Though self-quarantining himself, the prime minister is spending the day in briefings, phone calls and virtual meetings from home, including speaking with other world leaders and joining a special Cabinet committee discussion on the coronavirus. Trudeau spoke with US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

The news comes as Boris Johnson described the outbreak as the "worst health crisis in a generation".

Up to 10,000 people are thought to be infected with Covid-19 already and, in a stark warning to the public, Boris Johnson said families will continue to "lose loved ones before their time" as the outbreak worsens.

High-profile people to be diagnosed with the disease include Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and BT boss Philip Jansen, and the situation has been branded a "national emergency" by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The latest Government approach has seen measures introduced to try to protect the elderly and those most vulnerable to the disease, with Mr Johnson warning that the precautions will mean severe disruption across the country "for many months".

The coronavirus outbreak has lead to shortages at some supermarkets. Credit: PA

It comes as:

  • The number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the UK rose to 596 while the death toll is 10.

  • Mr Jansen, chief executive of BT Group, tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, becoming the first publicly confirmed case of a FTSE 100 chief executive.

  • The Premier League announced it would hold an emergency club meeting on Friday morning regarding future fixtures after Arteta tested positive for the virus. It was later confirmed Arsenal and Brighton's match set for Saturday has been postponed.

  • The FTSE 100 closed the day down by more than one 10th as fears over Covid-19 sparked the index's worst bloodbath since 1987.

  • The World Health Organisation said it was "deeply concerned" some countries are not handling the pandemic with "the level of political commitment needed to control it".

  • The Electoral Commission recommended local elections in May be postponed.

  • Stormont ministers insisted it is not the right time to close Northern Ireland schools over coronavirus, despite the announcement by the Irish Republic that schools will be shut south of the border.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announces new measures for Ireland. Credit: PA

The new guidance means anyone with coronavirus symptoms, however mild, such as a continuous cough or high temperature, must stay at home for seven days.

While the measures are not as extreme as other countries like Italy and the Republic of Ireland, officials have warned the current approach could change as the disease - the risk rating for which has been raised to high - becomes more widespread.

Mr Johnson told reporters at a press conference in Downing Street: "We've all got to be clear, this is the worst public health crisis for a generation.

"It is going to spread further and I must level with you, I must level with the British public: many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."

School trips abroad should be stopped, people over 70 with serious medical conditions are being told not to go on cruises and officials warned the advice is likely to develop to mean that if someone becomes ill, their entire household could be told to self-isolate.

Scotland has already banned mass gatherings and Mr Johnson said the Government is keeping that kind of measure "up our sleeves".

One expert said there is a danger that people in whom the virus presents as similar to a common cold may not realise they should self-isolate.

Professor Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said the Government advice, which specifies persistent cough and raised temperature, "needs careful consideration by those charged with mitigating the impact of this pandemic".

The Prime Minister has defended the UK's approach to the pandemic, which has so far been less dramatic than the likes of the US, saying the Government is being guided by the best science and trying to get the timing right for people to take the situation seriously.