U.K. PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as COVID-19 symptoms worsen

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s condition has worsened since being hospitalized with persistent COVID-19 symptoms, and he has been moved into intensive care, his Downing Street office said in a statement on Monday.

“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,” the statement said. 

“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 deputize for him where necessary,” Johnson’s office said. “The PM remains conscious at this time.”

Raab, 46, chaired the government’s emergency COVID-19 meeting on Monday. At the daily coronavirus media briefing, Raab said Johnson was being “regularly updated,” but admitted he had not spoken to him since Saturday.

WATCH l Scene around St. Thomas’ Hospital, where Boris Johnson is in intensive care

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has coronavirus, is said to have worsening symptoms 0:50

Downing Street said Johnson had been moved to the intensive care unit as “a precaution should he require ventilation to aid his recovery.”

With only an unwieldy collection of sometimes ancient and contradictory precedents to go by, there is no formal succession plan should the prime minister become incapacitated.

Johnson, 55, was admitted to hospital Sunday for tests in what Downing Street said was a “precautionary step” because he was still showing persistent symptoms of COVID-19 10 days after testing positive for the virus.

Earlier on Monday, a spokesperson said Johnson had a “comfortable” first night in hospital and was in “good spirits” while continuing to work.  

Also earlier on Monday, the prime minister thanked “the brilliant [National Health Service] staff taking care of me and others in this difficult time.”

Johnson’s pregnant 32-year-old fiancée, Carrie Symonds, also had symptoms but said on Saturday she was feeling better.

On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump said Johnson was a “strong man” as he passed on his nation’s best wishes.

“All Americans are praying for him,” Trump said Sunday. “I’m hopeful and sure that he’s going to be fine.”

Britain gets additional ventilators

Doctors said a person of Johnson’s age with COVID-19 symptoms after 10 days was likely to be assessed for their oxygen levels, lung, liver and kidney functions, and undergo an electrocardiogram heart check.

“Clearly the prime minister is finding it difficult to shake this thing off,” said Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at Nottingham University.

“What it does show is how difficult it is to predict how this infection will develop, and whilst most people will experience nothing more than an annoying cold, for others this can develop into a serious and sometimes life-threatening disease.”

WATCH l Queen Elizabeth gives rare address to nation

The Queen urged Britons to show unity and strength during the coronavirus pandemic in a special televised speech. 3:35

Medics said that patients with COVID-19 can deteriorate after about 10 days, with some developing pneumonia. National Health Service guidelines advise those who are self-isolating not go to hospital unless they develop new symptoms or become sufficiently unwell.

In terms of Britain’s fight in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, the prime minister’s office said Britain now has 10,000 ventilators in its health care system, confirming the number had increased after deliveries from suppliers.

The country’s coronavirus death toll rose by 439 to 5,373 people as of 4 p.m. on Sunday, the health ministry said in its daily update on Monday.

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