British PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as virus symptoms worsen
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British PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as virus symptoms worsen

UK leader said to be conscious and does not require ventilation, asks Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputize for him; Israeli PM: We are praying for his speedy recovery

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses a news conference on the government's response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, inside 10 Downing Street in London on March 20, 2020 (JULIAN SIMMONDS / POOL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses a news conference on the government's response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, inside 10 Downing Street in London on March 20, 2020 (JULIAN SIMMONDS / POOL / AFP)

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved Monday to the intensive care unit of a London hospital after his coronavirus symptoms worsened.

Johnson’s office said Johnson is conscious and does not require ventilation at the moment.

Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital late the night before, 10 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputize for him.

Israeli leaders wished him a speedy recovery.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the People of Israel pray for the speedy and full recovery of our friend British Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted: “Our thoughts are with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this evening. We are praying for his speedy recovery.”

And Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz stated: “My heart goes out to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and to the British people during these difficult moments. I send my wishes for a full and speedy recovery to the prime minister.”

There was no indication of how long Johnson might remain hospitalized. The prime minister’s spokesman said earlier that Johnson had spent a comfortable night and remained in charge of government, despite being admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital, when COVID-19 symptoms of a cough and fever persisted 10 days after he was diagnosed.

Johnson had sent out a tweet thanking the National Health Service for taking care of him and others in this difficult time.

“On the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests, as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms,” Johnson said in the tweet. “I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.”

Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, refused to say what kind of tests Johnson was undergoing. He insisted that “the PM remains in charge of the government.”

Screen capture from video of Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking from self isolation which he began since contracting coronavirus, April 3, 2020. (Twitter via AP)

“He is receiving updates in hospital and is continuing to receive a (ministerial red) box” of files and briefing papers, Slack said.

The 55-year-old leader had been quarantined in his Downing Street residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 — the first known head of government to fall ill with the virus.

He continued to preside at daily meetings on the outbreak until Sunday, and released several video messages during his 10 days in isolation. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab chaired the meeting on Monday.

Britain has no official post of deputy prime minister, but Raab has been designated to take over, should Johnson become incapacitated.

Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press briefing, Raab said Johnson was being “regularly updated,” but admitted he had not spoken to him since Saturday.

“He’s in charge, but he’ll continue to take doctors’ advice on what to do next,” Raab said.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives in Downing Street, London, April 6, 2020. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

Johnson was admitted to the hospital as a message to the nation from Queen Elizabeth II was being broadcast Sunday evening. The 93-year-old monarch urged the public to show resolve and follow advice to stay inside.

Concerns had been growing about Johnson’s welfare ever since he posted a message Friday saying that he was feeling better, though he was still feverish.

The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most people, but for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death.

The government said Monday that 51,608 people had been confirmed to have the coronavirus in Britain, 5,373 of whom have died.

One of the advantages of being in the hospital is that it will allow doctors to directly monitor Johnson’s condition.

Derek Hill, a professor of medical imaging science at University College London said that since COVID-19 causes difficulty breathing, one test performed on people with the disease is lung imaging with ultrasound or CT scans to see how badly they might be affected.

“Some people are rapidly discharged,” he said. “Some others can quickly deteriorate and need help breathing. We have no reason to believe the PM needs such help.”

Hill said there are various types of breathing help, depending on the person and the difficulties.

“The reasons some people get seriously ill with COVID-19 while others have minor symptoms is not yet fully understood,” Hill said. “But doctors managing these patients report that more men than women have serious problems, and patients who are overweight or have previous health problems are at higher risk.”

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