Raab ‘confident’ Johnson will pull through Covid-19 illness
7 April 2020, 19:14
PM remains ‘stable’ as he faces a second night in intensive care following a worsening of his symptoms.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said he is “confident” Boris Johnson will pull through after being admitted to intensive care following a worsening of his coronavirus symptoms.
Mr Raab, who is deputising for the Prime Minister during his absence, said the news on Monday evening that he had been transferred to an intensive care bed at St Thomas’ Hospital had come as a “shock” to ministers.
However, speaking at the daily No 10 news conference, he said the entire Cabinet was united around the approach set out by Mr Johnson for tackling coronavirus.
The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there were signs that the rates of new of infections and new hospital admissions for Covid-19 were “flattening off”.
But in an indication that the current lockdown measures would have to continue beyond the three-week review due next week, he said it would be another “week or so” before they could be sure.
Mr Raab said Mr Johnson – who is facing a second night in intensive care – remained in a “stable” condition and had not required to be put on a ventilator.
“I’m confident he’ll pull through because if there’s one thing I know about this Prime Minister, he’s a fighter and he’ll be back at the helm leading us through this crisis in short order,” he said.
He said that ministers would not “blink or flinch” from following the instructions Mr Johnson had set out before he was hospitalised.
But he appeared reluctant to say whether he would be prepared to take a decision to break with the Prime Minister’s strategy while he was still in hospital if he believed a change of direction was necessary.
“He’s asked me to deputise for him for as long as is necessary, but the normal Cabinet collective responsibility and principles that inform that will apply,” he said.
The latest official figures from the Department of Health showed that 6,159 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Monday – an increase of 786 on the previous day.
However Sir Patrick said there were signs the number of new cases “could be moving in the right direction”.
“It’s possible that we’re beginning to see the beginning of change in terms of the curve flattening a little bit. We won’t know that for sure for a week or so,” he said.
He said that the demand for intensive care beds should not now exceed the capacity of the NHS.
Mr Raab stressed however that they could not consider easing the lockdown restrictions until it was clear the peak of the epidemic had passed and it could be “responsibly done”.
“The critical thing is to take evidence-based decisions and so we’ve said that we will take any review once we’ve got the evidence that the measures are working,” he said. “We’re not at that stage yet.”
He said the Government was making “progress” towards its target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month, with the latest figures showing they were up to 14,000.
However Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said the UK needed to learn from the example of Germany where the number of deaths appeared to be growing more slowly.
“We all know that Germany got ahead in terms of its ability to do testing for the virus and there’s a lot to learn from that and we’ve been trying to learn the lessons from that,” he said.
In other developments:
– The Queen has sent a message to Mr Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds and the Prime Minister’s family, saying she wishes him a full and speedy recovery
– The British Medical Association said doctors’ lives are still being put at risk due to inadequate protective equipment, with 69% saying they did not believe they were being properly protected
– The Road Haulage Association has warned the industry may need to be nationalised unless firms receive a Government bail-out
– Vicars have been urged to stop live-streaming services from their empty churches over the Easter weekend, over fears it will encourage people to try to visit in person.
Earlier, Downing Street rejected suggestions that it had sought to hide the seriousness of Mr Johnson’s illness, having previously described his symptoms as mild.
The Prime Minister was originally admitted to St Thomas’ on Sunday as a “precautionary step” as he was still suffering from a cough and high temperature 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19.
On Monday he was said to be working on his ministerial red box from his hospital bed but by the evening his condition had deteriorated and he was moved to intensive care so he could be near a ventilator if required.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said they had made the information public as soon as was “practically possible”.
“We have a commitment to be as transparent as we can be throughout this process,” the spokesman said.