Boris Johnson: Medic explains what the move to ICU means

6 April 2020, 21:11

By Fiona Jones

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to an intensive care unit, a chief medic explains what being in ICU means and why he is in there.

Professor Paul Hunter explains that if a patient is placed in an intensive care unit, it means they are "very sick", for example a patient is struggling to breathe by themselves or maintain their cardiovascular system.

It is when "you need a lot of nursing and technical care to keep you going," the professor said.

Professor Hunter said that for people who go into intensive care with Covid-19 the average time people spend there is four or five days, although there is "considerable variation."

"Whether you survive or not you tend to be in intensive care for an average of four to five days."

File photo: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to ICU on Monday
File photo: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to ICU on Monday. Picture: PA

Professor Hunter explained that those in ICU have their body closely monitored and if they worsened, they are provided with organ support in the form of a ventilator.

He added only one in five patients in ICU require kidney dialysis.

"One of the things about Covid-19 is often people deteriorate very slowly and you can actually start off and be quite well for a week or so and then find it quite difficult to breathe... and if you continue to deteriorate you may need to go on to ventilation," he explained.

Professor Hunter also pointed out that often and usually the body's defence systems win against the virus and people ultimately recover.