The Queen is to remain at Balmoral for the rest of the summer, despite concerns for her health after a staff member at the Scottish estate tested positive for Covid.
Her Majesty, 95, decided to stay at the Aberdeenshire retreat where the employee was sent home on Saturday following a PCR test so she can ‘get back to normal’ following the death of Prince Philip
The monarch, who has been double-vaccinated and once described the virus as a ‘plague’ sweeping the planet, has a castle-full of relatives including Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, Princess Beatrice
Sources insisted that all the staff at Balmoral are tested for Covid daily and that after the employee came up as positive on Saturday, they were sent home and the staff canteen and bar were shut.
They told the Sun that workers have been told to wear facemasks and to socially distance, but that the royals themselves are ‘pretty much carrying on as they were’ before the positive test. However, the Queen and her family missed Sunday’s church service on the Scottish estate – with insiders suggesting they may have done so while they wait for the results of their Covid PCR tests.
Under government guidance, people in England and Northern Ireland who have had two Covid vaccine doses will no longer have to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
Instead of undergoing 10 days of house-arrest, they are now advised to take a PCR test – though this is not compulsory. They are also advised to wear facemasks in enclosed spaces and to limit contact with others, particularly the clinically vulnerable. However, if they test positive for Covid, they will be legally required to self-isolate.
The Queen during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland at the gates at Balmoral, as she takes up summer residence at the castle
Other members of the royal family are already congregating at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire (pictured)
‘Courtiers mooted the idea of staff putting the family’s meals on a buffet table with the royals then helping themselves,’ the source said. ‘But the Queen has decided food will continue being served by servants and the family will still go out shooting stag and having picnics on the estate.’
They added: ‘Although Her Majesty is 95 and has been double jabbed, the feeling is she still has to be careful yet she’s determined to carry on as normal. She does not want to overreact.’
The Queen’s trip to Balmoral is her first away from Windsor Castle since the Duke of Edinburgh’s death in April. Family parties are planned, with Prince William, Kate Middleton and their three children all expected to arrive later this month in addition to Zara and Mike Tindall.
In February, the head of state urged vaccine-hesitant Britons to get jabbed. In the unprecedented intervention, the Queen suggested it is selfish not to have the vaccine and encouraged those with doubts to ‘think about other people rather than themselves’.
She said her jab in January this year ‘didn’t hurt at all’ and had made her ‘feel protected’. Likening Covid to a plague, she said it was remarkable how quickly the inoculation programme had been put into action, helping ‘so many people’.
In a video call with NHS officials in charge of the rollout, Emily Lawson told the monarch: ‘We hope everyone who is offered the vaccine will take it up, because it is our best chance to protect both the people who take up the vaccine, their families and their communities.’
In reply, the Queen suggested it was selfish for people not to have the jab if offered one, saying: ‘Once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important. And I think the other thing is that it is obviously difficult for people if they’ve never had a vaccine… but they ought to think about other people rather than themselves.’
After the call Dr Lawson said the Queen’s comments were an ‘incredibly important vote of confidence in the programme’.
Prince Andrew was spotted arriving at Balmoral Castle accompanied by his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson
Her Majesty during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland at the gate
She added: ‘We just want to make sure we create the conditions where everybody feels able to take up the offer of a vaccination when they’re called. And Her Majesty offering her view on that is a huge boost to our confidence and, I hope, to confidence more broadly in the programme.’
It comes as official figures revealed that Britain’s daily Covid cases continue to creep upwards but deaths have levelled off, amid a warning from ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson that daily infections could still breach 100,000 a day.
Department of Health bosses posted 28,438 positive coronavirus tests, up 13 per cent in a week. Infections have now been ticking upwards for ten days. And hospital admissions in England are still rising slowly, other data suggests. Another 689 Covid patients needed medical treatment on Saturday – up 9 per cent on the 630 the week before.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s fatality count was nearly a third lower than last Monday’s with another 26 victims added to the Government’s official toll – compared to 37 last week.
Day-to-day counts can fluctuate heavily, especially on Mondays because of the weekend registration lag. But the overall trend – which lags weeks behind cases simply because of how long it takes between getting infected and becoming seriously ill – in deaths has been flat for over a week now. Hospitalisation numbers are affected before fatalities.
It comes after one of the Government’s scientific advisers claimed yesterday’s loosening of ‘pingdemic’ isolation rules is unlikely to cause Covid cases to spiral because the public will remain careful.
Hospital admissions in England are still rising slowly, other data suggests. Another 689 Covid patients needed medical treatment on Saturday – up 9 per cent on the 630 the week before
Professor Stephen Reicher, a psychologist at the University of St Andrews and member of SAGE ‘s behavioural sub-committee, said he was a ‘relative optimist’ about the relaxation and the next phase of Britain’s coronavirus battle.
Millions of fully-jabbed people in England and Northern Ireland will not have to endure the misery of a 10-day isolation if they are ‘pinged’ by the NHS app or contacted by Test and Trace. It brings both nations in line with Scotland and Wales and marks one of the biggest steps on the road back to normality.
Asked about whether the move could spark a rise in infections, Professor Reicher told BBC Radio 4’s Today show: ‘After the reopening on July 19, many of us thought infections would go up massively to 50,000 or 100,000 a day. Perhaps they still will – but they didn’t.
‘One of the major reasons why they didn’t was the good sense of the public – people remained cautious, people remained careful, so I have a fair amount of faith in the good sense and the caution of the public.’
But Professor Ferguson, another one of No10’s Covid scientists whose modelling has influenced draconian measures, warned it was still ‘possible’ cases could hit 100,000 a day in the coming weeks. There are fears that infections could start to spiral again now that isolation rules are being relaxed, the country is moving into the colder months and schools are preparing to go back.
The Imperial College London epidemiologist admitted he was not certain about what will happen to cases in the coming months, claiming: ‘I’ve learnt my lesson in terms of being over-eager at making those sorts of predictions.’
Professor Ferguson was heavily criticised for claiming it was ‘almost inevitable’ cases would rise above 100,000 – possibly as high as 200,000 – after Freedom Day in July. In reality, there are now just 28,000 cases every day, on average.
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