LONDON: British Member of Parliament (MP) Nadine Dorries, a junior health minister, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, she said in a statement on Tuesday (Mar 10).
"I can confirm I have tested positive for coronavirus ... and have been self-isolating at home," said the Conservative MP.
Health officials are now trying to trace where she contracted the virus and who she has been in contact with, she added.
Dorries, 62, who helped craft the legislation to fight the bug, is the first British politician to be diagnosed with COVID-19, raising immediate concern about whether she has spread the infection.
The Times reported that she had been in touch with hundreds of people, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
She attended a Downing Street reception last week for International Women’s Day where Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds were present, the Guardian reported.
She fell unwell on Friday while signing the document that declared coronavirus a notifiable disease, meaning companies could obtain insurance cover, said the paper, adding she was now believed to be on the road to recovery.
"I would like to thank ... the wonderful NHS staff who have provided me with advice and support," she said, referring to Britain's National Health Service.
Britain's health minister, Matt Hancock, tweeted that he was "really sorry" to hear of Dorries' diagnosis. "She has done the right thing by self isolating at home," he said.
The shock news is likely to increase calls to suspend parliament, despite the government's reluctance to do so in the middle of a health crisis.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the MP said she was worried about her 84-year-old mother who is staying with her.
"It’s been pretty rubbish but I hope I’m over the worst of it now," she said. "More worried about my 84-year-old mum who is staying with me and began with the cough today. She is being tested tomorrow."
Six people have died in Britain from the virus, with 373 confirmed cases.