UK’s Johnson to Stay in Hospital, Concerns Rise over Political Vacuum
By Staff, Agencies
United Kingdom’s PM Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care amid concerns about the seriousness of his condition and how the British government will make key decisions about the coronavirus pandemic in his absence.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who is deputizing for the prime minister, has no power to make major decisions without cabinet agreement, it emerged on Tuesday.
Raab tried to strike a reassuring tone at the daily Downing Street press conference after Johnson was moved to intensive care on Monday evening because his condition had deteriorated 24 hours after he was admitted to hospital, saying: “He will pull through.”
Johnson required oxygen for breathing problems but No 10 said he had not been placed on a ventilator and did not have pneumonia. They did not reveal further details, such as whether Johnson had any type of secondary infection.
Raab said: “I’m confident he will pull through because if there is one thing that I know about this prime minister, he is a fighter and he will be back leading us through this crisis in short order.”
He also conceded that he and his cabinet colleagues were concerned about the situation, saying Johnson was “not just our boss – he is also a colleague and he is also our friend”.
Giving an update on Johnson’s condition, Raab said: “He’s receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance, he’s not required any mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support. He remains in good spirits and in keeping with usual clinical practice his progress continues to be monitored closely in critical care.”
A Downing Street spokesperson later confirmed Johnson, 55, would spend another night in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ hospital in London.
Asked whether he would be able to change course if necessary – by easing or intensifying the lockdown, for example – Raab said: “I was given a very clear steer from the prime minister and as we have been going through this crisis, very clear instructions in terms of dealing with coronavirus – and he’s asked me to deputise for him as long as is necessary, but the normal cabinet responsibility and principles that inform that will apply.”
He repeatedly declined to answer the question of whether the measures of closing restaurants, and non-essential shops, and limiting when the public can leave their homes, would be reviewed next Monday, three weeks after they were introduced.