Stricken by coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was on Tuesday described as being stable and in ‘good spirits’ after being admitted to the intensive care unit of the St Thomas’ Hospital, as another senior cabinet minister, Michael Gove, went into self-isolation.
Johnson has deputised foreign secretary Dominic Raab to take his place at the top of the government. Downing Street said if Raab were also to be incapacitated, the role would be performed by chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Johnson, 55, was described by his spokesperson as being stable, in ‘good spirits’, breathing unassisted and without pneumonia. Queen Elizabeth, members of the royal family, leading individuals across the political spectrum and others wished him speedy recovery.
Friends of Johnson recalled his robust health based on playing rugby, tennis and running. Former prime minister David Cameron described him as a “tough and resilient guy”, adding: “He is pretty fit. I have faced him on the tennis court and am sure he will be fine”.
Michael Gove, cabinet office minister, announced that he did not have symptoms but is in self-isolation. He is the latest senior figure at the heart of the Johnson government whose movements have been curbed by the virus.
Gove said while working from home that Johnson is not on ventilator, but has been administered oxygen: “One of the reasons for being in intensive care is to make sure that whatever support the medical team considered to be appropriate can be provided”.
“The prime minister was taken into hospital on Sunday. He was undergoing a series of tests when his condition deteriorated. And the medical advice was that he should be moved to intensive care”, he added.
Officials said Raab has full authority of a prime minister but will not be able to appoint or drop ministers in the Johnson government. Raab chaired meetings related to the response to coronavirus on Tuesday.
Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, also contracted the virus but is recovering.