The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in intensive care and has received oxygen support as he battles against Covid-19.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has stepped in to temporarily take over Johnson’s duties and lead the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
Cabinet secretary Michael Gove said the PM was “receiving the very, very best care from the team at St. Thomas’ and our hopes and prayers are with him and with his family.”
PM is ‘stable’ and ‘in good spirits’
Johnson, 55, is the first major world leader confirmed with the virus and was hospitalised on Sunday (April 5) after his symptoms worsened.
The PM’s spokesman, James Slack said: “The prime minister has been stable overnight and remains in good spirits. He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and is breathing without any other assistance.”
Slack would not provide details of the oxygen treatment Johnson is getting but said the PM is not receiving mechanical ventilation or “non-invasive respiratory support.”
‘We are rooting for him’ – Gove
Johnson has been in self isolation since March 26 when he tested positive for coronavirus but he continued to work from home until being taken to London’s St Thomas’ hospital. Downing Street said the move was precautionary, following persistent symptoms, including a fever. However, last night the PM was moved to an ICU at the hospital.
Gove said: “It was a shock yesterday to hear the news of his going into intensive care. All of us just want him to pull through — he is the leader of our country. He is a big-hearted, generous-spirited guy who believes in public service. We are rooting for him.”
Gove is currently in isolation after a family member presented mild coronavirus symptoms and is the latest high profile public figure to be infected or isolated.
Raab said he is confident Johnson will recover and told the daily press briefing the prime minister is a “fighter” who remains in “good spirits” and was breathing without assistance.
Concerns PM’s absence will create power vacuum in time of crisis
The foreign secretary will deputise for Johnson in key meetings but concerns are growing about a power vacuum emerging at the heart of government as the coronavirus crisis worsens.
When asked repeatedly if he had power to make decisions in the PM’s absence, Raab said “only that he had taken clear instructions from the Prime Minister and that the Cabinet was aware of the plan for tackling coronavirus.”
The Telegraph reports the “predicament is becoming increasingly urgent as the decision on whether to extend the lockdown must be taken in the coming days” given it was announced on March 23 with a review due in three weeks.
‘Vast majority of coronavirus deaths are in hospitals’ – ONS
BBC news online health editor Michelle Roberts has reported Office for National Statistics that show the “vast majority of coronavirus deaths [in the UK] are happening in hospitals…but some are occurring in hospices and care homes too”.
However, because “there there are not enough tests to check how many people in the community are infected, or how many deaths are linked to Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus”, the figures “cannot shed much light on the true toil.”
In another report, a coronavirus doctor said “hospitals just aren’t built to provide the flow of oxygen needed to keep so many patients on ventilators – and we’re finding that our infectious “red zone” wards can only take a maximum of 10 ventilated patients before the oxygen flow drops, triggering an alarm.”
The latest figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care show 55,242 positive cases of coronavirus in the UK and 6,159 deaths – the biggest daily increase recorded so far, up 786, compared to 439 deaths reported on Monday (April 6).