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No change in UK prime minister's condition

2020-04-07 HKT 14:18
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  • Barriers go up outside St Thomas' Hospital on Tuesday where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being treated. Photo: AFP
    Barriers go up outside St Thomas' Hospital on Tuesday where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being treated. Photo: AFP
There has been no change in Boris Johnson's condition, two sources close to him said on Tuesday, after the British prime minister was taken into intensive care following a deterioration in his coronavirus symptoms.

Johnson was given oxygen on Monday at a central London hospital in what Downing Street said was a precautionary measure after his condition had worsened. 

Johnson's personal battle with the virus has shaken the British government just as the United Kingdom enters what scientists say is likely to be one of the most deadly weeks of the outbreak, which has already killed 70,000 people worldwide.

Johnson, 55, was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital across the River Thames from the Houses of Commons late on Sunday after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature and a cough, for more than 10 days.

"The PM remains conscious at this time," Downing Street said late on Monday, adding that the move to intensive care was "a precaution should he require ventilation to aid his recovery".

While Britain has no formal succession plan should a prime minister become incapacitated, Johnson asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputes for him "where necessary”, Downing Street said.

Just hours earlier, Johnson had said that he was in good spirits and Raab had told a news conference that the prime minister was still running the government, though Raab also said he hadn't spoken to the prime minister in person since Saturday.

"The government's business will continue," a sombre Raab, 46, told reporters, saying Johnson was in the safe hands of a brilliant medical team.

The United Kingdom is in a state of virtual lockdown, a situation due to be reviewed early next week, and some ministers have suggested it might need to be extended because some people were flouting the strict rules.

Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 26, the first leader of a major power to announce that he had been infected.

Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth had been kept informed by Downing Street and US President Donald Trump said all Americans were praying for his recovery.

Trump told a news briefing he had asked two pharmaceutical firms developing potential Covid-19 therapies to get in touch with the British government to offer their services.

"We've contacted all of Boris' doctors and we'll see what is going to take place," he said. "But they are ready to go."

Johnson, who is not a smoker, is not known to have any underlying health issues, although he has struggled with his weight. (Reuters, AFP)