Boris spends second night in intensive care as Covid-19 strategy questioned

8 April 2020, 06:11

Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care
Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson's deputy Dominic Raab has cast doubt on whether the coronavirus lockdown will be reviewed next week, as questions remain over who makes key decisions while the PM is in intensive care.

Mr Johnson spent a second evening in intensive care after being moved there by his medical team. He is said to be in "good spirits" and in a "stable" condition, but is receiving "close monitoring."

Concerns have been raised over when the Government's coronavirus lockdown measures would be reviewed with Downing Street confirming the review would take place after the three-week mark originally committed to.

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The emergency legislation laid before Parliament three days after the PM's announcement states that a review must take place every 21 days, with the first deadline being April 16.

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he is "confident" Mr Johnson will pull through after a worsening of his coronavirus symptoms.

Mr Raab, who is deputising in Mr Johnson's absence, suggested the review of the lockdown announced by the PM when he set out the restrictions would not go ahead on Monday as scheduled.

He stressed 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".

Chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said the fight against Covid-19 "could be moving in the right direction".

Meanwhile the first of the NHS Nightingale hospitals, at London's ExCel Centre, received its first patients on Tuesday.

The Nightingale was built to boost treatment capacity in London but officials stressed that limits had not been reached at other sites across the capital.

"There is also treatment capacity available in other hospitals across London to complement the care being provided at the London Nightingale," an NHS Nightingale London spokeswoman said.

The admissions come just two weeks after the temporary hospital with a planned capacity of 4,000 was formally announced, but later than had initially been expected.

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump claimed that the UK called the US with an urgent plea for 200 ventilators, as ministers seek to scramble to boost capacity for the sickest of patients.

"We're going to work it out, we've got to work it out," he said. "They've been great partners. They wanted 200, they need them desperately."

Sir Patrick said there were signs that the rates of new infections and new hospital admissions for Covid-19 were "flattening off".

But he added it would be another "week or so" before they could be sure, indicating lockdown measures would not be eased before then.

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.

Support has been thrown behind Boris Johnson
Support has been thrown behind Boris Johnson. Picture: PA

Updating the nation on the PM's condition on Tuesday, Mr Raab said he remained stable and had not required a ventilator but had received "standard oxygen treatment" while breathing without assistance.

"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 admitted to hospital.

But he appeared reluctant to say whether he would be prepared to take a decision to break with the PM'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.

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