Boris Johnson the governor of the great power to have been infected, the leader will be replaced by his chief of diplomacy, Dominic Raab, who is committed to continue the fight against the virus.
After being tested positive for COVID-19 on March 27, Mr. Johnson, 55, has been working to continue to lead the response to this historic crisis since his quarantine at Downing Street, providing video updates on Twitter where it appeared marked. But his persistent symptoms, including fever, he had been hospitalized Sunday evening, officially for exams.
“During the afternoon, the Prime Minister’s state of health deteriorated and, on the advice of his medical team, he was transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital,” said his spokesperson in the evening.
“The Prime Minister has asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab […] to replace him where necessary,” he added in a statement. The latter had already replaced him on Monday to chair the daily meeting devoted to COVID-19.
According to a government source, Boris Johnson remains “conscious” and his transfer, which took place around 7 p.m. local (2 p.m. ET), was decided “as a precaution in case he needs a respirator”.
On the BBC, Dominic Raab assured that the leader was “in good hands” and that the government would take care to implement his “instructions” in order to “defeat the coronavirus”.
Just hours before his critical care admission was announced, the foreign minister assured that Boris Johnson had spent a “quiet night” at St Thomas Hospital in central London, and that he was staying “Under observation”.
“His morale is good” and “he continues to run the government,” he said during the executive’s daily press conference, pressed to question the Prime Minister’s ability to hold office despite the illness.
More than 50,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, which has become one of the most severely affected countries in Europe, and 5,373 died.
Among the positive cases is also Crown Prince Charles, who has now recovered after developing mild symptoms. He found his wife Camilla on Monday, tested negative for COVID-19, but who had been confined for 14 days as a precaution.
“Very sad news”
Messages of support to the Prime Minister quickly multiplied from abroad, French President Emmanuel Macron wishing him to “overcome this ordeal quickly”, and in his country beyond political divisions.
“Very sad news. All thoughts of the country are with the Prime Minister and his family, “twisted new Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer.
Scottish Nationalist Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who tears with Boris Johnson over his wish for independence for Scotland, wished him “a speedy recovery”.
Triumphing in the December legislative elections with the promise to implement Brexit, Boris Johnson was criticised in this crisis for having delayed taking his measure, reluctant for a long time to adopt containment measures. The leader himself boasted at the beginning of March of continuing to “shake hands with everyone”, including in a hospital where patients were victims of COVID-19.
Since then, the executive has decreed a general containment of at least three weeks on March 23, built in field hospitals to relieve an overwhelmed health system, promised to multiply by ten the tests which are sorely lacking and freed up gigantic sums to respond to the economic and social slump.
The left-wing daily The Guardian said on Monday that “Johnson was more seriously ill than he or his officials were prepared to admit.”
Some commentators believed that the head of government should have rested.
His pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds said on Twitter on Saturday that he also suffered from the symptoms of the disease, but is on the mend.
In response to the scale of the crisis, Queen Elizabeth II, 93, spoke to the British on Sunday to encourage them to stand up and instill a message of hope in an exceptional television address.