UPDATE: Boris Johnson in intensive care as condition worsens

A senior UK government minister has dodged questions about whether Boris Johnson has pneumonia after he was moved to intensive care.

The British Prime Minister spent two nights in hospital battling coronavirus and was moved to the higher care unit at 4am AEDT on Tuesday.

Michael Gove, a senior UK minister, deflected questions about the specifics of his condition.

When asked if Mr Johnson had pneumonia, a common side effect of coronavirus, he replied: "I'm not aware of that."

"The Prime Minister is someone who has amazing energy, great determination, a desire all the time to make sure that things are moving forward," Mr Gove told the BBC.

In a separate interview on London radio, Mr Gove said: "He is not on a ventilator. The Prime Minister has received some oxygen support.

"He is kept, of course, under close supervision. By being in intensive care if there is further support he needs it is there at hand. But the Prime Minister has not been on a ventilator," he told LBC.

There were reports this morning that Mr Johnson's symptoms were less severe than other patients moved to intensive care wards.

He had not been intubated, a preparation where a tube gets put into a patient's windpipe before they are put on a ventilator.

And a doctor at St Thomas' Hospital revealed he had required four litres of oxygen, when a standard patient would need 15 litres of oxygen before they were upgraded to intensive care, according to The Times newspaper.Colleagues of the British PM said Mr Johnson's determination to continue working may have compromised his health, according to friends and colleagues.

"Boris has worked non-stop throughout his illness - and now we see the result," Sarah Vine, the wife of Michael Gove, said on Twitter.

James Duddridge, MP, said: "Take care boss. Get well. Come back fighting. But for now rest, look after yourself and let the others do the heavy lift."

Another cabinet minister, who did not wish to be named, told the London Financial Times: "This may be the jolt, the wake-up call that he realises he has to rest to recover.

"He will have been very reluctant to go to hospital."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak tweeted: "My thoughts tonight are with @BorisJohnson and @carriesymonds. I know he'll be getting the best care possible and will come out of this even stronger."

Mr Johnson had tweeted from his hospital bed overnight that he was in "good spirits", but it is understood his condition rapidly deteriorated.

"Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I'm still experiencing coronavirus symptoms. I'm in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe," Mr Johnson said.

UK PM Boris Johnson announces he has coronavirus. Picture: Supplied
UK PM Boris Johnson announces he has coronavirus. Picture: Supplied

"I'd like to say thank you to all the brilliant NHS staff taking care of me and others in this difficult time. You are the best of Britain.

"Stay safe everyone, and please remember to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives."

The UK has recorded 5373 deaths from coronavirus so far, with another 439 in a day, according to the latest figures.

There has been a scramble to get as many as 30,000 ventilators built to avoid a catastrophic shortage at UK hospitals.

A new 4000-bed hospital was opened in East London this week, with four more similar Nightingale hospitals to be set up around the UK.

Britain remains in lockdown for the second week, with a decision on whether any changes to make to the restrictions due next Monday.

There have been concerns that Mr Johnson was working too hard and now needed to prioritise his health, following reports he was still receiving government documents in his hospital bed.

FEARS FOR JOHNSON'S HEALTH

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab has been given control of some duties, but Mr Johnson remains Prime Minister.

He was conscious this morning after being moved to the high care unit at 4am AEST.

However, the quick decline was a sign of how serious the coronavirus can affect patients.

A Number 10 Downing Street spokesman said: "Since Sunday evening, the Prime Minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas' Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

"Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the Prime Minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital.

"The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary.

"The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication."

St Thomas' Hospital is across the Thames from Westminster, where under normal circumstances Mr Johnson would be working.

The public hospital is part of the UK's National Health Service, which Britain has been hugely proud of and eternally grateful for during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Johnson, 55, was a keen cyclist before he became Prime Minister but has been unable to exercise on two wheels as often because of his role and security issues.

He gave up drinking during last year's election campaign and had lost some weight.

Mr Johnson does not smoke but did say to local London paper the Islington Gazette that he lit a cigar when one of his five children were born.

The Prime Minister's fiancee Carrie Symonds, 32, is pregnant with her first child and the pair was due to marry before the coronavirus hit.

Ms Symonds has recovered but Mr Johnson's symptoms, including a fever and persistent cough, had continued despite seven days of isolation.

He had been in contact with members of the government, but has not been seen since he posted a video of himself looking rather unwell, pleading with people to stay home at the weekend.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said on Twitter: "Praying for the Prime Minister's swift recovery tonight. @GSTTNHS has some of the finest medical staff in the world, and he couldn't be in safer hands."

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds attend the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London. Picture: AP
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds attend the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London. Picture: AP

JOHNSON 'STILL IN CHARGE'
Earlier, Mr Johnson had stated he would still lead the coronavirus battle from his hospital bed despite calls for him to step down - but he hasn't spoken to his stand-in Dominic Raab since Saturday.

The PM, 55, was admitted to a London hospital on Sunday night (local time) - 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus - and remains there as of Monday night (local time), reports The Sun.

On Monday (local time), Mr Johnson tweeted to thank the doctors taking care of him, calling them "the best of Britain".

 

He said: "On the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I'm still experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

"I'm in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.

"I'd like to say thank you to all the brilliant NHS staff taking care of me and others in this difficult time. You are the best of Britain.

"Stay safe everyone, and please remember to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives."

Mr Johnson had insisted that despite his illness, he's still leading Britain's fight against the pandemic and will carry on working.

Taking the daily Downing Street press conference in place of Mr Johnson, Dominic Raab stressed: "He was admitted for tests as precaution only and that is because some of the symptoms had persisted.

"He is being readily updated, he remains in charge of the Government, and we are getting on with the varying strands of work."

And he insisted when pressed over it: "The PM is in charge, he is leading the Government, giving directions as and when required."

But Mr Johnson's stand-in revealed that he hadn't actually spoken to the British PM since Saturday - at least a day before he went into hospital.

Mr Raab added: "I spoke to the PM over the weekend, I chaired the morning meeting, he is being kept abreast of all the developments."

Mr Johnson has instead been in touch with No10 officials about the day-to-day running of the Government and getting his red box of work and papers delivered.

Earlier the Foreign Secretary chaired the COVID-19 daily meeting in his place, and is expected to continue to do so during his absence.

But pressure was growing for Mr Johnson to formally step down while he recovers - and hand over the reigns to other members of his top team.

If he becomes more unwell the PM has the power to delegate responsibility to any minister, but Mr Raab is technically his number two.

One Tory MP said he should stop trying to be copy Winston Churchill's leadership during the Second World War and instead let another Cabinet minister take charge while he's sick.

They told the Telegraph: "Unfortunately he has written too many books on Churchill and wants to be the guy - he needs to be Boris Johnson and not try to be someone else."

Another MP told the BBC: "'He might be ill for a month and that's a month the country can't afford."

 

 

stephen.drill@news.co.uk

Originally published as Boris Johnson in hospital over coronavirus symptoms


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