British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fighting worsening coronavirus symptoms in an intensive care unit on Tuesday, leaving his foreign minister to lead the government’s response to the accelerating outbreak.
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 pandemic, which has already killed 70,000 people worldwide.
Johnson, 55, was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital across the River Thames from the House of Commons late on Sunday after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature and a cough, for more than 10 days.
His condition rapidly deteriorated over the next 24 hours, and he was moved to an intensive care unit – where the most serious cases are treated. Although he had received oxygen, his office said he was still conscious.
“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 had asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputize 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, although Raab also said he hadn’t spoken to the prime minister directly since Saturday.
The pound edged lower against the dollar and the euro in Asia on Tuesday, trading at $1.2234 following a 0.3% decline on Monday.
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