Jeremy Corbyn could self-isolate for months under a plan to protect those aged 70 and over from coronavirus, his top ally has indicated.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said "we should follow medical advice" when asked what Labour's leader, who turned 70 last May, would do.
Mr Corbyn is due to step down as Labour leader on April 4. However, the government could bring in a recommendation before then for those aged 70 and up to stay at home to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus.
Ministers have confirmed the plan, which was leaked over the weekend, is "quite likely" but not when it will start or how long it will last.
Mr Corbyn declined yesterday to say whether he would self-isolate if that becomes government guidance. Instead he said: "I think we should ask people to isolate themselves if they have the symptoms in any form and if they are vulnerable."
Asked if he would self-isolate, he replied: "I am doing what everybody is being asked to do, which is washing my hands frequently and also making sure that the meetings I attend have people who are separated by some distance.
"It is all the kind of practical measures that we all need to take."
Mr McDonnell was asked again today by the BBC whether Labour's leader would self-isolate. He replied: "We've got to listen to the medical advice, follow that."
Mr McDonnell said the modelling behind the advice must be made public so if it has to be contested, it can.
But he told the BBC: "If there is a recommendation of self-isolation of certain age groups or people with certain conditions no matter what their age, we should follow that medical advice."
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today said the plan to ask over-70s to stay at home will be launched "when the moment is right".
However, he declined to say whether Mr Corbyn should take part, telling LBC's Nick Ferrari: "I’ll leave that to Jeremy Corbyn ."
Mr Shapps said unlike those with symptoms, the healthy elderly would still be allowed to leave their homes, for example to walk the dog.
"I don’t think any of this is at a compulsion level. We simply want to keep citizens safe," he said.
He added: "It is the case that people will be able to go out and walk the dog. It's about being sensible, not mixing in crowds."
A Labour spokeswoman declined to add to Mr Corbyn's comments yesterday about self-isolation. Labour's leader yesterday said the government was "complacent".
He told reporters: "We are suffering a pandemic. It is very, very serious and the government just seems to be complacent and behind on this.
"They are giving advice which is different to that given in almost every other European country. This is something strange."
He added: "It seems to me that at every stage, the government just isn't on it and isn't fast enough."
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