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British PM in intensive care, Raab takes helm

2020-04-07 HKT 01:30
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  • Police stand guard outside St Thomas' Hospital, where Mr Johnson is being treated. Photo: Reuters
    Police stand guard outside St Thomas' Hospital, where Mr Johnson is being treated. Photo: Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken into intensive care late on Monday, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab temporarily taking over the premier's duties.

"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," his office said in a statement.

"The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary."

The announcement came just hours after Downing Street said Johnson was in "good spirits" and remained in charge of the government despite his admission to hospital for tests after suffering "persistent symptoms" of coronavirus 10 days after being diagnosed, officials said.

Johnson announced on March 27 that he had tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the most high-profile world leader infected with the disease that has spread rapidly across the globe.

The 55-year-old had been self-isolating in his Downing Street flat but on Sunday evening, still suffering a high temperature and a cough, he was driven to a nearby state-run hospital on the advice of his doctor.

Officials said it was a "precautionary step" but it has raised questions about whether the Conservative leader can still run the country.

"The prime minister had a comfortable night in St Thomas' Hospital in London and is in good spirits. He remains in hospital under observation," Johnson's spokesman said earlier on Monday.

Raab, who chaired Monday's coronavirus meeting in his absence, told the daily media briefing that Johnson was still "in charge", but that he had not spoken to him for two days.

"He's in charge but he'll continue to take doctors' advice on what to do next and we have a team which... is full-throttle making sure that his directions and his instructions are being implemented," said Raab.

More than 50,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths have been recorded in Britain so far, with a latest daily toll of 439. (AFP/Reuters)
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Last updated: 2020-04-07 HKT 03:33