UK military chiefs self-isolate after head of army catches Covid

The defence secretary and six of the UK’s most senior military commanders have been forced to self-isolate after Gen Sir Nick Carter, the head of the armed forces, tested positive for coronavirus.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed in a statement to the Guardian that Carter, chief of the defence staff, had tested positive for Covid-19.

The MoD also said on Sunday night that colleagues who were in a meeting with Carter last week, including the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, are now self-isolating.

An MoD spokesperson said: “The chief of the defence staff has tested positive during routine Covid-19 checks.

“Colleagues who were in a senior meeting with him last week, including the secretary of state, are self-isolating in line with government guidelines.”

The Telegraph reported that Carter started isolating late last week after testing positive and that NHS Test and Trace had since ordered Wallace and the heads of the Royal Navy, RAF and Strategic Command to remain at home after coming into “close contact” with him.

The head of the army and Carter’s deputy, who also attended the same meeting but were at a distance from Carter, spent the weekend isolating while they waited for the results of PCR tests. It is believed that as a precaution they will work remotely on Monday.

Carter, 62, reportedly tested positive after appearing at the Chalke Valley history festival in Wiltshire on Friday and at a meeting at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham in Oxfordshire on Thursday.

Among those also reportedly present at Thursday’s meeting in addition to Wallace were: Adm Sir Tim Fraser, vice-chief of the defence staff; Gen Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, chief of the general staff; Adm Sir Tony Radakin; Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston; and Gen Sir Patrick Sanders.

MPs had issued a warning last week that Nato partners had expressed concern about British service personnel who had not been double-vaccinated being deployed overseas.

Labour accused the government of falling short of its duty to protect members of the armed forces.

But defence minister James Heappey insisted it was right that troops were vaccinated according to their age cohort as he said that 95% on active overseas operations had been vaccinated and that 61% had received their second dose.

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