British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a second night in intensive care and was in a stable condition on Wednesday after receiving oxygen support for COVID-19 complications, raising questions about how key decisions would be taken in his absence.
Johnson, who tested positive nearly two weeks ago, was admitted to St Thomas’ hospital on Sunday evening with a persistent high temperature and cough but his condition deteriorated and he was rushed into an intensive care unit.
The 55-year-old British leader has received oxygen support but was not put on a ventilator and his designated deputy, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, said he would soon be back at the helm as the world faces one of its gravest public health crisis in a century.
“He is comfortable, he’s stable, he’s in good spirits,” Edward Argar, a junior health minister, said on Wednesday. “While he’s had oxygen, he hasn’t been on a ventilator.
As Johnson battled the novel coronavirus in hospital, the United Kingdom was entering what scientists said was the deadliest phase of the outbreak and grappling with the question of when to lift the lockdown.
Inside the government, ministers were debating how long the world’s fifth-largest economy could afford to be shut down, and the long-term implications of one of the most stringent set of emergency controls in peacetime history.
The United Kingdom’s total hospital deaths from COVID-19 rose by a record 786 to 6,159 as of 1600 GMT on April 6, the latest publicly available death toll, though just 213,181 people out of the population of around 68 million have been tested.
Britain was in no position to lift the shutdown as the peak of the outbreak was still over a week away, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said.
“We are nowhere near lifting the lockdown,” Khan said.