Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital for precautionary tests after Downing Street admitted that the prime minister was still suffering from serious symptoms of coronavirus.
Mr Johnson, who first developed signs of the virus 10 days ago, has continued to run the government despite appearing to be unwell in his video messages. Last Friday, he issued a video claiming to be “feeling better” despite not having totally recovered.
“On the advice of his doctor, the prime minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests,” a Downing Street spokesperson said. “This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus.”
Mr Johnson thanked NHS staff for their “incredible hard work” and urged the public to keep following the government’s advice to stay at home.
His girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who is at least six months pregnant, has also been diagnosed with Covid-19, it was reported on Sunday. “I’ve spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of coronavirus,” she said on Twitter. “I haven’t needed to be tested and, after seven days of rest, I feel stronger and I’m on the mend.”
Colleagues said they were glad that the 55-year-old prime minister had admitted he needed more medical help. “This may be the jolt, the wake-up call that he realises he has to rest to recover,” said one cabinet minister. “He will have been very reluctant to go to hospital.”
Aides said Mr Johnson was still displaying serious symptoms including a high temperature and had gone to hospital for tests on the advice of his doctor. They said it was not an emergency admission but did not clarify whether he would be spending the night in hospital.
They said Mr Johnson remained in charge of the government and was still in contact with ministerial colleagues and officials. If he becomes too incapacitated to work, the “designated survivor” who would fill in as prime minister would be Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary.
The UK government earlier confirmed that the death toll from the virus on Saturday was 621, taking the total number of victims to 4,934 with 16,702 hospitalised so far.
Mr Johnson first developed mild symptoms — a persistent cough and temperature — 10 days ago. By Friday March 27, he had been tested and confirmed as the first G7 leader to be infected with Covid-19.
Subsequently, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, also tested positive although he is now back at work and fully recovered.
Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, went into self-isolation after displaying symptoms of Covid-19.
Mr Johnson has sought to present a cheery front throughout the infection, telling the British public that he would use the “wizardry of modern technology” to keep in close touch with colleagues to lead the national fightback against the virus.
On Sunday night, there were expressions of goodwill from across the political spectrum.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said he looked forward to seeing the prime minister healthy and well again. “I send my very best wishes to Boris Johnson and his family tonight for a swift recovery.”
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