British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 55, announced on March 27 that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has a caused a worldwide pandemic. Johnson broke the news in a video on Twitter, explaining that he had developed “mild symptoms” of the virus (a fever and persistent cough) over the past 24 hours. “I am working from home, I am self-isolating and that is entirely the right thing to do,” Johnson, who mentioned days earlier that he was continuing to shake hands with “everybody,” said in his address. “I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.” As he battles the virus that has infected over 14,000 in the UK, learn more about him:
1. He was actually born in New York City. Johnson retains American and British citizenship. He was born in 1963 to British parents living in NYC: Stanley Johnson, a student at Columbia University, and Charlotte Fawcett, the daughter of a barrister. The family moved back and forth from the United States, Belgium, and the UK throughout Johnson’s childhood, ultimately settling down in England when he was a teenager.
2. He was a journalist before entering politics. Johnson was a successful reporter for The Times of London in the late 1980s, but was ultimately fired for fabricating a quote. He moved on to The Daily Telegraph, where he served as the European Commissions reporter from 1989 to 1994, and a political columnist in 1999. He was the editor of right-wing publication The Spectator until 2008.
3. He was deaf as a child. Though known now for being loud and boisterous, Johnson was a quiet child. He was deaf until the age of eight due to a condition called “glue ear,” in which the ear canal fills with fluid, causing temporary hearing loss. Because of this, he was required to wear a grommet, a small tube surgically implanted in the eardrum to drain the fluid. He jokes now that he was actually exaggerating his deafness to “avoid boring conversations.”
Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.
I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020
4. He was an MP, Foreign Minister, and the mayor of London. It was a long road to Johnson becoming prime minister. While still the editor of The Spectator, in 2001, Johnson became an MP (member of Parliament). He left office in 2008 to become the mayor of London. He served two terms, leaving to become the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in 2016. He remained in the position until elected Prime Minister in 2018.
5. He championed Brexit. In his first speech as PM, Johnson vowed that the UK would leave the European Union by October 31, 2019. It took a little longer than that, but the proposition eventually passed through Parliament. Britain officially left the EU on January 31, 2020.