Inside Boris's Covid battle: Johnson 'couldn't walk upstairs' at No 10 and was 'rushed to hospital in wheelchair'

28 May 2023, 00:00 | Updated: 28 May 2023, 00:07

Boris Johnson tested positive for Covid in March 2020
Boris Johnson tested positive for Covid in March 2020. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Boris Johnson was so ill with Covid that he 'could not walk up the stairs to the flat' in Downing Street and was rushed to hospital in a wheelchair, his ex-director of communications has revealed.

Speaking exclusively on his podcast Unprecedented, Guto Harri revealed that Mr Johnson slowly became "groggier and groggier" before the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty urged him to get tested in March 2020.

After he tested positive, Mr Harri said, his wife Carrie - who was pregnant at the time - "had to immediately move out with their son Wilf".

"He got to the point where he literally could not walk up the stairs to the flat in No. 11. So he moved into what was until then a sort of suite of offices for the Chancellor in No.10 on the ground floor," Mr Harri said.

"And he was handed his food and papers and stuff through that door and communicated essentially online with staff and with the British people."

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

Boris Johnson records a video to the public after testing positive for Covid
Boris Johnson records a video to the public after testing positive for Covid. Picture: Boris Johnson

Mr Harri also revealed that at the time, No 10 tried - "understandably" - to play Boris' Covid battle down, but in reality, "He was pretty ill and deteriorating".

Mr Johnson's former comms chief continued: "He kept deteriorating until in the end, he was basically put in a wheelchair and wheeled into an ambulance to be taken to hospital. And he said, at that time, he felt completely decrepit."

According to Mr Harri, Mr Johnson's Covid battle was a "critical moment" inside No 10, adding that "no one really knew how this would play out" or "how long he'd be away".

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The last thing Mr Johnson wanted, Harri says, was a "tracheostomy", which is when an opening is created at the front of the neck so a tube can be inserted into the windpipe to help a patient breathe.

"I asked him whether he thought he was actually going to die. And he said he didn't. He never really thought that because of what he called a childlike faith in doctors.

"But he could tell that the staff at the hospital were worried, and he was very conscious that they kept talking about his oxygen levels that were going down and down to levels where it was really very dangerous."

Unprecedented by Guto Harri on GlobalPlayer
Unprecedented by Guto Harri on GlobalPlayer. Picture: Global

Mr Harri's revelations comes as the Covid inquiry is threatening legal action against the Cabinet Office over the release of un-redacted WhatsApp messages and diaries belonging to Mr Johnson.

A row has broken about between the official inquiry and the Cabinet Office centring on redactions made to material that has been handed over.

It comes after Mr Johnson faced more questions about alleged breaches of lockdown rules revealed by his ministerial diary.

Mr Johnson has described the claims as a "stitch-up".

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