How is Queen Elizabeth? Health explained after positive Covid test - as she cancels more virtual engagements

A US gossip website is circulating the bizarre rumour that ‘the Queen is dead’ - however Buckingham Palace has said that the 95-year-old monarch is suffering from just ‘mild cold-like symptoms’

The Queen has postponed two more virtual audiences in the wake of her Covid diagnosis, after having already cancelled a number of virtual engagements.

She is continuing to suffer from “mild cold-like symptoms” due to Covid, Buckingham Palace has announced.

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The news comes amid concerns for the monarch’s health given her age and recent health scares.

Following the announcement of the Queen’s positive Covid test, US website Hollywood Unlocked even began circulating the bizarre rumour that she had passed away.

So how is the Queen actually doing? This is what we know so far.

When was she diagnosed with Covid-19?

Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen had contracted Covid-19 on Sunday 20 February.

She fell ill after it was confirmed she had been in direct contact with her eldest son and heir, the Prince of Wales, the week he had the disease.

Her diagnosis came after it was confirmed that she had been in direct contact with the Prince of Wales the week he also had Covid (Photo: Paul Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “Buckingham Palace confirm that The Queen has today tested positive for Covid.

“Her Majesty is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week.

“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.”

The Queen is believed to be triple vaccinated against the virus, having received her first jab in January 2021.

How has her health been recently?

Buckingham Palace generally does not offer information about the Queen’s health, stating that medical matters are private.

Shortly prior to testing positive for Covid, the Queen was seen with a walking stick during her first in-person engagement of 2022, where she met with the incoming Defence Services Secretary Major General Eldon Millar at Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth II with Rear Admiral James Macleod and Major General Eldon Millar (right) as she meets the incoming and outgoing Defence Service Secretaries (Photo: PA)

In a video clip of the event, after the general asks how the Queen is feeling, she replied: “Well, as you can see, I can’t move”, and gestured to her left leg.

At the end of last year, she also spent a night in a hospital in London for “preliminary investigations”.

At the time, a palace spokesperson said: “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime [on Thursday], and remains in good spirits.”

Why has she cancelled her virtual engagements?

Initially, the Queen only cancelled her virtual engagements on Tuesday (22 February), but it has since been announced by Buckingham Palace that two more virtual audiences have been postponed.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The two virtual audiences that had previously been scheduled to take place today (Thursday 24 February) will now be rescheduled for a later date.

“Her Majesty is continuing with light duties. No other engagements are scheduled for this week.”

The virtual cancellations come ahead of her in-person engagements next week (Photo: Joe Giddens - by WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Despite the cancellations, the Queen did have her telephone audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday (23 February).

The cancellations come ahead of a number of in-person arrangements - she is set to host the Diplomatic Reception on March 2, where she will meet hundreds of members of the Diplomatic Corps at Windsor. Buckingham Palace has yet to comment whether the Queen will still attend.

The Queen is also due to attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on March 14 and then the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service, also at the Abbey, on March 29.

How serious is Covid-19 for someone of the Queen’s age?

Throughout the pandemic, older people have been at a much higher risk of Covid-19 - and that includes the 95-year-old Queen.

Charity Age UK says: “Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic doctors and scientists across the world have found that older people are more likely to have the most severe outcomes.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also adds: “Older adults are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

“Getting very sick means that older adults with COVID-19 might need hospitalisation, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they might even die.

“The risk increases for people in their 50s and increases in 60s, 70s, and 80s. People 85 and older are the most likely to get very sick.”

At age 95, Covid could pose a serious threat to the Queen (Photo: Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images)

While the Queen is only experiencing “mild symptoms”, nearly all severe Covid infections begin that way.

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, told the PA news agency: “With somebody in their mid-90s, even if they’re triple vaccinated you are concerned that they could gradually deteriorate over coming days and so you would need to keep a very careful eye on them.

“You would, I think, almost certainly be considering giving antiviral drugs, of which there are a number around at the moment.”

He added: “If you do get them early enough it does reduce the risk of severe disease developing so I would imagine any doctor for a patient in their 90s would be considering giving these antivirals out.”

Why has a US website said that the Queen is dead?

After it was announced that the Queen had tested positive for Covid-19, rumours regarding her alleged death quickly began to circulate.

On Wednesday 22 February, Hollywood Unlocked reported that the Queen had died in an Instagram post.

The post read: “Sources close to the Royal Palace notified us exclusively that #QueenElizabeth has passed away.

“She was scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead. Story developing.”

However, many pointed out that it was unlikely that this relatively unknown American news outlet would be the first to break the news of the Queen’s death, especially considering the strict protocol in place for when the Queen does pass away.

Operation London Bridge is the name given to the plan for what will happen in the UK, the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Hollywood Unlocked founder Jason Lee doubled down on the news, tweeting: “We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources. Waiting for an official statement from the palace.”

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