Boris Johnson revealed his fears about a lack of ventilators in a telephone call to Donald Trump, the US president has revealed.

The two leaders spoke within hours of the prime minister being diagnosed with coronavirus – and amid fierce criticism of his failure to take up the EU’s offer to jointly obtain the life-saving equipment.

Revealing the contents of the call, Mr Trump said: “I say ‘how are you feeling’ and the first thing Boris said to me is ‘we need ventilators'”

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The US was willing to “help the UK”, despite the gathering crisis in the country which is now identified as the hotspot of the pandemic, the president said.

The call came after Brussels ridiculed the UK’s claim that a communications mix-up explained its decision not to join an emergency EU scheme to procure ventilators and other desperately-needed equipment.

Ministers were at meetings when the offer was made, the EU pointed out – fuelling criticism that ministers put ‘Brexit over breathing’, even as Covid-19 cases soared.

The NHS has only 8,000 ventilators – when 30,000 are likely to be needed – and only a further 8,000 are expected to be ready before the expected peak of the epidemic, in mid-April.

Mr Trump told a press conference: “We can help the UK – Boris Johnson specifically.

“As you know Boris, he’s tested, unfortunately he’s tested positive and that’s a terrible thing. But he’s gonna be great I’m sure he’s gonna be totally great.

“But they want ventilators, Italy wants ventilators, Spain wants ventilators, Germany wants ventilators.”

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