Boris Johnson will remain in hospital under observation after undergoing routine tests for “persistent” coronavirus symptoms, 10 days after he was diagnosed with the illness.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said on Monday he “had a comfortable night” in St Thomas’ Hospital in London and “is in good spirits”. While Mr Johnson’s symptoms were previously described as “mild”, Downing Street now said they were a high temperature and a cough.
“I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe,” Mr Johnson tweeted on Monday. He also thanked “the brilliant NHS staff taking care of me” as well as other patients. “You are the best of Britain. Stay safe everyone, and please remember to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”
No further details of Mr Johnson’s health or treatment are known. The prime minister’s spokesperson dismissed the suggestion by Russian state media that he was on a ventilator as “disinformation” and said any changes to his condition would be made public.
Downing Street insisted that Mr Johnson remained firmly in charge of the government from his hospital bed. He is still receiving ministerial red boxes and official papers. He is also still in touch with officials and ministers.
In his absence, foreign secretary and de facto deputy Dominic Raab is chairing key meetings, including Monday morning’s coronavirus planning in No 10, known informally in government as the “war cabinet”. He will continue to chair these meetings while Mr Johnson is in hospital.
A cabinet meeting is not due to take place on Tuesday, as parliament is in recess. The coronavirus war cabinet — including chancellor Rishi Sunak, health secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove — will take its place.
Despite his insistence on continuing to lead the government, Mr Johnson is under pressure from some in the Conservative party to step aside while recovering from coronavirus. “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.”
ConservativeHome, an influential grassroots website in the party, also called on the prime minister to rest ahead of critical decisions in the coming week on when and how to relax the nationwide lockdown.
“Whenever he returns home, he will need complete rest. In the meanwhile and as we write, important decisions need to be taken . . . Dominic Raab should formally deputise for Johnson until he is back to his normal swashbuckling self — which can’t come soon enough,” the site’s editor Paul Goodman wrote on Monday.
Mr Johnson has received good wishes from across the world and political spectrum. Keir Starmer, the new leader of the UK opposition Labour party, said on Sunday that he was “wishing the prime minister well and a speedy recovery.”
US president Donald Trump said on Sunday: “All Americans are praying for him. He’s a friend of mine, he’s a great gentleman and a great leader . . . I’m sure he is going to be fine, he’s a strong man, a strong person.”
Meanwhile, Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale, was also admitted to hospital in Manchester due to coronavirus symptoms. The Labour party said: “He is stable and responding to the treatment and dedicated care that he is receiving from the brilliant doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff.”