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UK PM stable in ICU, remains in 'good spirits'

By Aditi Khanna
April 07, 2020 20:46 IST
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Boris Johnson who was hospitalised with persistent coronavirus symptoms is stable in the intensive care unit of a London hospital and has not required ventilator support for breathing, Downing Street said in a health update on the British prime minister on Tuesday.

Johnson, who had been shifted to the ICU on Monday night, remains in "good spirits" and has not been diagnosed with pneumonia -- one of the fallouts in serious COVID-19 patients.

"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," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

"He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support," the spokesperson said.

Johnson spent the Monday night in the ICU at a London hospital in a move Downing Street said was a "precaution" should the British prime minister require ventilation to aid his recovery from COVID-19.

Johnson, 55, was taken to St Thomas' Hospital in London, a specialist infectious diseases National Health Service facility, on Sunday night for "routine tests" after persistent coronavirus symptoms including a high temperature and a cough.


His condition "worsened" during the course of Monday when his doctors decided to shift him to ICU.

"The prime minister is not on a ventilator. He has received oxygen support and one of the reasons of being in intensive care is to ensure that whatever support the medical team consider to be appropriate can be provided," said UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove on Tuesday morning.

Johnson had tested positive for coronavirus 12 days ago and had continued to lead the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic via video conferencing from his Downing Street home.

On Monday night, he asked his First Secretary of State, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, to step in for him and the minister will be chairing his second daily COVID-19 meeting in place of the UK PM on Tuesday.

"The government's business will continue. The prime minister is in safe hands with that brilliant team at St Thomas' hospital, and the focus of the government will continue to be on making sure that the prime minister's direction, all the plans for making sure that we can defeat coronavirus and can pull the country through this challenge, will be taken forward," said Raab, who would be deputising for Johnson "where necessary" while he is in hospital.

"There's an incredibly strong team spirit behind the Prime Minister, and making sure that we get all of the plans the Prime Minister's instructed us to deliver, to get them implemented as soon as possible. And that's the way it will bring the whole country through the coronavirus challenge that we face right now,” said the senior Cabinet minister.

The team spirit was on display as ministers of Johnson's top team took to social media to wish him a speedy recovery and support to his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds.

"My love and thoughts are with Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds and the prime minister's family. Praying for you and thinking of you," said UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in her Twitter message, alongside an image of her alongside Johnson at a temple in London on the campaign trail from the past year.

Fellow Indian-origin senior Cabinet colleague, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, echoed the message: "My thoughts tonight are with Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds. I know he'll be getting the best care possible and will come out of this even stronger."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the world leaders who sent out their messages of support to the UK PM.

"Hang in there, Prime Minister Boris Johnson! Hope to see you out of hospital and in perfect health very soon," Modi tweeted.

United States President Donald Trump said Americans "are all praying for his recovery" as he described Johnson as "a very good friend of mine and a friend to our nation" who is "strong" and "doesn't give up".

French President Emmanuel Macron said he sends "all my support to Boris Johnson, to his family and to the British people at this difficult moment".

UK's newly-elected Opposition Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described it as "terribly sad news".

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that St Thomas' Hospital in London had "some of the finest medical staff in the world" and that the Prime Minister "couldn't be in safer hands".

Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II, who has been holding her customary weekly audiences with the Prime Minister over the telephone at Windsor Castle during the current coronavirus lockdown, is being kept informed about Johnson's health.

In some COVID-19 cases, patients experience breathing difficulties as the body's immune system struggles to cope and pneumonia is among the signs of the most serious cases.

Earlier in the day on Monday, Johnson had messaged from his hospital bed to say that he was in “good spirits” and staying in contact with his ministers to oversee the UK's coronavirus fightback despite his hospitalisation.

He was last seen in public applauding the NHS and other key workers just outside his flat in Downing Street last Thursday and posted his last Twitter video message on Friday in which he looked quite unwell as he said he was still displaying minor symptoms.

His hospitalisation comes as the number of coronavirus hospital deaths in the UK reached 5,373 and the UK's Department of Health said there were now 51,608 confirmed coronavirus cases.

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Aditi Khanna
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