UK PM Boris Johnson remains ‘stable’ in intensive care with coronavirus

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for PMQs at the House of Commons on 25 March, 2020 in London, England.

Wiktor Szymanowicz | NurPhoto | Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “stable” and in “good spirits” Tuesday and was getting “standard oxygen treatment” in the intensive care unit for the coronavirus, his spokesman said.

The spokesman also said the 55-year-old prime minister was breathing without any other assistance.

“He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support,” the spokesman told reporters.

Downing Street confirmed that the prime minister has not been diagnosed with pneumonia.

Johnson was hospitalized Sunday and admitted to intensive care Monday after his condition worsened over the course of the afternoon.

Johnson announced on March 27 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday evening for “tests” due to his “persistent symptoms.”

The coronavirus attacks the respiratory system and can cause pneumonia. For the worst cases, a ventilator is required to take over the breathing process and to allow the immune system to concentrate on fighting the virus. But ventilators carry risks.  

‘He’s a fighter’

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was designated to take over the duties of prime minister “where necessary,” the government said.

Speaking at the government’s daily briefing Tuesday, Raab reinforced what Johnson’s spokesman had said about his health earlier in the day and offered words of support for the U.K. leader.

“He’s not just the prime minster. For all of us in the Cabinet, he’s not just our boss. He’s also a colleague and he’s also our friend,” he said.

“I’m confident that 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.”

The minister added that the Cabinet had received “very clear instructions” from Johnson and was “focused with total unity” to tackle the health crisis.

World leaders rally round

World leaders have rallied around Johnson, wishing him a speedy recovery.  President Donald Trump sent his best wishes Monday and told a press briefing that: “All Americans are praying for him, he’s a friend of mine, he’s a great gentleman and a great leader.”

Johnson received support from closer to home, too, with European leaders sending their best wishes. 

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Monday: “I send all my support to Boris Johnson, to his family and to the British people at this difficult moment. I wish him a speedy recovery at this testing time.”

Germany’s government spokesman tweeted a photo of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Johnson together, and expressed her hopes for his quick recovery.

Spanish President Pedro Sanchez also tweeted his best wishes and expressed solidarity with the prime minister, saying: “These are difficult days for our countries, but from strength and unity we will manage to win this battle. A hug to all the British people.”

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The messages of support come as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread worldwide. The U.S., which has recorded the highest number of infections, has reported over 368,000 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 10,989 deaths.

Spain and Italy are the worst affected countries in Europe with over 130,000 confirmed cases each. The U.K. has 52,279 confirmed cases and 5,385 deaths.

The pandemic has eclipsed geopolitical feuds with old enmities laid aside as countries muster all their resources to fight the virus. The U.K. was meant to be negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU but that seems to have been sidelined as governments concentrate on the virus.

The European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted her support for the prime minister, as did the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who has himself recovered after contracting the coronavirus.

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