Move follows rumours that prime minister’s condition had been worsening
Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital due to coronavirus after suffering 10 days of symptoms including a high fever, bringing doubts about his capability to lead the response to the pandemic despite No 10 insisting it was purely precautionary.
Johnson was taken to an unnamed London hospital on Sunday after days of persistent symptoms, during which time he has been self-isolating. Last week No 10 had denied the prime minister was more seriously ill than claimed.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “On the advice of his doctor, the prime minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests. This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus.”
Officials were keen to stress that this was not an emergency admission, and that Johnson will remain in charge of government, and will be in regular touch with colleagues and civil servants.
If his condition worsens Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, is the designated minister to take charge. Raab is expected to chair a 9.15am Monday meeting of the government’s C-19 committee, which leads the response to the pandemic.
Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader, was among a string of MPs to tweet their best wishes to Johnson. “Wishing the prime minister well and a speedy recovery,” he wrote.
Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary and Johnson’s main rival for the Conservative leadership last year, tweeted: “Thoughts with Boris Johnson this evening. Whatever political persuasion the whole country is united in wanting our PM to get fit and well as soon as possible.”
Donald Trump, the US president, began his Sunday night press briefing by sending well wishes to Johnson.
“He’s a great friend of mine,” Trump said of his British counterpart. “I’m sure he is going to be fine, he’s a strong man, a strong person.”
Johnson’s hospitalisation came after the Department of Health said the number of hospital deaths connected to coronavirus stood at 4,934 people as of 5pm on Saturday, up by 621 from 4,313 the day before.
Among recent fatalities was the first serving midwife confirmed to have died with coronavirus. Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow, Essex, said Lynsay Coventry, 54, had died on Thursday.
Also on Sunday, scientists warned that the 17.5m antibody home testing kits ordered by the government after Johnson said they could be a “game changer” might fail to detect up to half of coronavirus cases.
It had been suggested the kits would be made available to the public within days, but on Sunday Hancock played down their imminent arrival.
Scientists involved in validating home testing kits told the Guardian that no test on the market has yet been shown to be sufficiently reliable. One expert said they were more likely to detect only 50%-60% of those with milder symptoms.
– The Guardian.