bbc george alagiah

BBC News anchor George Alagiah forced to withdraw from live presenting as coronavirus heightens

The BBC journalist was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014

Sharnaz Shahid

BBC newsreader George Alagiah has announced he has temporarily withdrawn from presenting live in the newsroom amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Taking to his Twitter page on Tuesday, the 64-year-old - who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2014 - told his followers that he is "absolutely gutted" by the decision. "Absolutely gutted," he tweeted. "After talking to colleagues and doctors I've decided to stay away from the newsroom."

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"I'm on a few weeks cancer treatment break at the moment but, on a balance of risks, we all decided I must heed the advice for those with underlying health issues," the primetime news anchor added. Former colleague and Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid, who is currently in self-isolation herself, replied with: "Huge best wishes George x." Naga Munchetty wrote: "Stay safe George x." Louise Minchin added: "Take care xx." The press team at BBC News said: "Sending George our very best wishes."

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The news comes a day after Boris Johnson gave new guidelines on the people most vulnerable to the coronavirus. "This advice about avoiding all social contact is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with some health conditions," said the Prime Minister in his daily briefing.

george-alagiah

George was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2014

George, who revealed he was being treated for the disease for a second time in 2018, underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy to treat advanced bowel cancer after his diagnosis six years ago. Last year, the journalist shared his experiences of living with the disease, saying that although he has struggled with "dark thoughts" since his diagnosis, it has brought some positives too. Opening up about his health on George Alagiah: A Bowel Cancer UK podcast, he explained: "Everybody's got their way of dealing with it, but I had to get to what I now call my place of contentment. Because there was so much thrashing about in my mind, some of it negative, some of it dark."

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He was first diagnosed with bowel cancer, and it was found to have spread to his liver and lymph nodes. The broadcaster then underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and three major operations, including one which involved the removal of most of his liver. George returned to work after being given the all-clear in November 2015, but revealed in 2018 that he was once again receiving treatment after the cancer returned.

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