Britain’s PM to spend second night in intensive care
LONDON – Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to spend a second night in intensive care on Tuesday to help his fight against a coronavirus infection, as his designated deputy said he would pull through because “he’s a fighter”.
Johnson is receiving oxygen support but is stable, in good spirits and breathing without assistance, said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Johnson, adding that he had not needed mechanical ventilation.
“I’m confident he’ll pull through because if there’s one thing I know about this prime minister, he’s a fighter, and he’ll be back at the helm leading us through this crisis in short order,” Raab told a daily news conference.
Johnson’s personal battle with the virus has shaken the government just as the United Kingdom, now in its third week of lockdown, enters what scientists say will be the deadliest phase of its coronavirus epidemic, which has already killed at least 6 159 people.
Johnson, 55, was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital, across the River Thames from parliament, late on Sunday after suffering symptoms including a fever and a cough for more than ten days.
His condition deteriorated, and he was moved on Monday to an intensive care unit in case he needed to be put on a ventilator.
In an update on Tuesday evening, his Downing Street office said he would remain there for close monitoring and no further update was expected before Wednesday.
Queen Elizabeth wished Johnson a full and speedy recovery and sent a message of support to his pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds, and his family, echoing warm words from the likes of United States President Donald Trump and other world leaders.
Raab said: “He’s not just the prime minister and, for all of us in cabinet, he’s not just our boss, he’s also a colleague and he’s also our friend.”
However, the absence of Johnson, the first leader of a major power to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, has raised questions about who is truly in charge at such a crucial time.
Britain has no formal succession plan if a prime minister is incapacitated, and Raab, 46, said Johnson had asked him to deputise for as long as necessary. If Raab was incapacitated, finance minister Rishi Sunak would stand in, though ministers refused to say who now had ultimate control over Britain’s nuclear weapons.
“I’ve got total confidence in the arrangements that the prime minister has put in place so that I can discharge responsibility for him, deputising for him while he’s out of action, and obviously we hope that will be for a very limited period of time,” Raab said.
He said decisions were being made collectively by the cabinet, a number of whom have also tested positive for the virus. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove was the latest to self-isolate. (Reuters)