Celebrity coronavirus diagnoses fuel further fears over spread of illness

Oscar winners, footballing heroes and captains of industry – all have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, suggesting it is now so prevalent that no one can escape it.

Even First Ladies get it. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Canada’s prime minister, contracted the virus at a speaking event in the UK, it was confirmed on Friday after she had returned home.

Justin Trudeau announced the news on Twitter, writing: “Unfortunately, the results of Sophie’s Covid-19 test are positive. Therefore, she will be in quarantine for the time being. Her symptoms remain mild and she is taking care of herself and following the advice of our doctor.”

The prevalence of coronavirus among celebrities, footballers, politicians and business leaders – some of whom will have had access to private testing – suggests it is more widespread than regular testing has so far shown. 

Official figures reveal that 798 people in the UK have tested positive for Covid-19 out of 32,771 people tested for the disease, the Department of Health said on Friday. Britain’s chief scientist and chief medical officer believe that anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people currently have the illness but have not been tested for it. 

But the true figure is likely to be much higher again. Under the new phase of the plan to deal with the virus, “delay” rather than “containment”, only people in hospital will be tested for fear of spreading it to patients who are already vulnerable. Experts have warned that up to 80 per cent of the population could contract it, with a mortality rate of about one per cent.

Public Health England (PHE) has moved swiftly to develop a test for coronavirus that can be used in sanctioned private laboratories, easing the strain on the NHS. 

The Telegraph understands that Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, only tested positive after the club’s doctor sent samples for testing at a private lab.

Arteta began developing symptoms earlier in the week, with the test results obtained and made public on Thursday night. His illness, forcing the club to self-isolate players, led to the decision to suspend the Premier League.

Chelsea footballer Callum Hudson-Odoi, a rising star of the game, also tested positive, the club announced on Thursday.

A PHE source said: “We have developed and deployed a test which is being used across a network of 12 labs, in addition to tests undertaken by the NHS, to increase capacity. We do not currently endorse anything else but we will evaluate commercial tests as they are developed.”

On Friday, Philip Jansen, the chief executive of the BT Group, became the highest-profile businessman to be infected. The company said it was working closely with PHE to “undertake a full deep clean” of relevant parts of its headquarters and “will ensure those employees who have had contact with Philip are appropriately advised”.

Mr Jansen said: “Having felt slightly unwell I decided, as a precaution, to be tested. As soon as the test results were known, I isolated myself at home. Given that my symptoms seem relatively mild, I will continue to lead BT but work with my team remotely over the coming week. There will be no disruption to the business.”

Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, an actress, became ill with coronavirus while filming in Australia. 

On Friday, the 63-year-old posted on Instagram his thanks to the Australians “taking such good care of us” in a Gold Coast hospital. Hanks wrote: “There are those for whom it could lead to a very serious illness. We are taking it one day at a time.”

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