KUALA LUMPUR (April 7): British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to an intensive care unit on Monday after his coronavirus symptoms worsened, although his Downing Street office said he was still conscious, Reuters reported today.
The report said Britain has no formal succession plan should the prime minister become incapacitated, but Johnson, 55, has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him.
According to Reuters, Johnson, 55, was admitted to hospital on Sunday night and had been undergoing tests after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature, for more than 10 days.
Downing Street had said he was in good spirits and still in charge, though his condition deteriorated in the early evening and he was transferred at about 1800 GMT to an intensive care unit - where the most serious cases are treated - at St Thomas' hospital in central London.
Johnson received oxygen, a source told Reuters.
"Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital," a spokesperson for his office said.
"The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary," Downing Street said. "The PM remains conscious at this time."
Downing Street said he had been moved to the intensive care unit as "a precaution should he require ventilation to aid his recovery".
Queen Elizabeth had been kept informed by Downing Street, Buckingham Palace said.
Reuters reported the Sterling fell by nearly a cent against the US dollar on the news about Johnson. The pound fell to as low as US$1.221, from US$1.230 earlier.
Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 26 but after 10 days of isolation in an apartment at Downing Street, he was still fighting the virus on Sunday evening with a high temperature and persistent cough.
His spokesperson had earlier refused to answer directly after being asked whether he had pneumonia. But his move to intensive care confirmed the gravity of the situation.
"There is no doubt this turn of events means Boris Johnson is extremely sick," said Derek Hill, a professor of medical imaging at University College London (UCL), who spoke to Reuters.
"One of the features of Covid-19 in all countries seems to be that many more men become seriously ill than women - especially in the over 40 age group. Also, we know that people under about 60 seem to have a higher chance of making a recovery from critical illness with Covid-19 than older people.
British politicians and world leaders wished Johnson well. US President Donald Trump said all Americans were praying for his recovery.
"He's been really something very special - strong, resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn't give up," Trump told a news briefing, adding he had asked two pharmaceutical firms developing potential COVID-19 therapies to get in touch with the British government to offer their services.
"We've contacted all of Boris' doctors and we'll see what is going to take place," he said. "But they are ready to go."
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