Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hopitalised yesterday due to persistent coronavirus symptoms, has been moved into intensive care, Downing Street has 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,” a spokesman said in a statement.
The prime minister had asked the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, to deputise for him “where necessary,” the statement said.
Why has Johnson been moved?
After being admitted to hospital over the weekend, Boris Johnson was given oxygen late this afternoon, before being taken to intensive care, the BBC says.
Johnson is still believed to be conscious, but his condition has been worsening throughout the afternoon, according to the broadcaster’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg.
The move marks a “dizzying turn of events” the New York Times says, after No. 10’s insistence over the past two days that Johnson remains in charge of the country.
Earlier today, the prime minister posted an update from hospital on Twitter saying that he had undergone “some routine tests” and thanked health workers for taking care of him.
Aged 55, Johnson is not thought to have any pre-existing medical conditions, though he has discussed his struggles with weight in the past. Two years ago he wrote in an article that he had cut out some calorific food because he had reached around 16 stone (104kg).
Who is running the country?
Dominic Raab, who last month was nominated as the government’s “designated survivor”, will deputise for the prime minister until he returns to his post.
In its statement this evening, Downing Street put a positive spin on Johnson’s condition, “But something important has changed, and he has felt it necessary to ask his foreign secretary to deputise for him where needs be,” Kuenssberg says.
Raab, who chaired a daily government coronavirus meeting this morning, admitted that he had not spoken to Johnson since Saturday. In a Twitter post, the BBC’s Andrew Neil asked why there had been no communication between the pair. “Something not right here,” he said.
In an interview shortly after the news of Johnson’s deterioration, Raab said there is an “incredibly strong team spirit” behind the prime minister and vowed that the government would bring the country through the pandemic.
What has the reaction been?
Sterling dropped against the US dollar after the news emerged. The pound had been trading higher against the dollar and the euro earlier today, but fell sharply after the announcement. Sterling was down 0.3% against the dollar to $1.2229 and down 0.1% against the euro to €1.1326 shortly afterwards.
World leaders and former British prime ministers have sent messages of support. France’s president Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet “All my support to Boris Johnson, to his family and the British people at this difficult time. I hope he overcomes this ordeal quickly.”
Others also sent messages of support to the prime minister.
What happens next?
At today’s conference, Raab said that it is too soon to discuss a strategy for ending Britain’s lockdown, and insisted that the current focus should remain on physical distancing measures to try to halt the spread of the virus.
According to figures released today, 51,000 people across Britain have tested positive for coronavirus and 5,373 people have died, though statistics show the rate of hospital admissions now appears to be slowing.