Stricken by coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in the intensive care unit in St Thomas’ Hospital in London, but a senior cabinet minister revealed on Tuesday that he is not on a ventilator, but has received oxygen.
Johnson, 55, was moved to the ICU on Monday night after being hospitalised on Sunday night. The developments raised questions over transparency in official communication, when until recently officials said he had “mild symptoms”.
Michael Gove, minister for cabinet office, said: “The prime minister is not on a ventilator. He has received oxygen support. 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, his condition deteriorated. And the medical advice was that he should be moved to intensive care at around seven o’clock last night”, he added.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab is deputising for Johnson. Several word leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent him get-well messages on twitter as the threat from the virus affecting usually well protected top echelons of government raised further concern.
Gove said: “The prime minister has been following medical advice. He’s also had a stripped back diary…We must all follow the appropriate medical advice, and all of us are discovering that this virus has a malevolence that is truly frightening”.
“The work of government goes on, we have a superb civil service and they have ensured that the machinery is there for decisions to be made by ministers, by medical and scientific experts, and for those decisions to be followed through in a way which enables us to help those on frontline”.
Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, also contracted the virus but is recovering.
Latest figures put the death toll from the virus in the UK at 5,373 and the number of positive cases at 51,608. These are figures based on admissions in hospitals, but do not include casualties in retirement and other homes.