LONDON — Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care in hospital on Monday evening, 24 hours after being admitted with COVID-19.
A No. 10 spokesman said the British prime ministers condition had worsened over the course of Monday afternoon and around 7 p.m., local time, he was moved to the intensive care unit at Londons St. Thomas Hospital.
Before he was moved, Johnson asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputize for him “where necessary,” Downing Street said in a statement. Officials indicated the prime minister remains conscious and the transfer to the ICU was a precaution should Johnson require a ventilator to aid his breathing.
While the U.K. has no written constitution or codified line of succession, Raab — who was appointed first secretary of state as well as foreign secretary — is recognized as Johnsons de facto deputy and in the event the prime minister was unable to resume his duties in the longer term, would be likely to serve unless the ruling Conservative Party selected an alternative.
The No. 10 spokesman said: “Since Sunday evening, the prime minister has been under the care of doctors at St. Thomas Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.
“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. The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.”
Speaking to the BBC on Monday evening after Johnsons condition worsened, Raab said the prime minister is “in safe hands” and that Johnson had asked him to “deputize for him where necessary in driving forward the governments plans to defeat coronavirus.”
“Theres an incredibly strong team spirit behind the prime minister,” he said.
Two hours before Johnson, 55, was admitted into intensive care, Raab had said at the daily Downing Street press conference that the prime minister was in “good spirits” and under continued observation. Johnson was said to be continuing to run the country from his hospital bed.
The prime minister was first admitted to hospital on Sunday night for tests, in what Downing Street insisted was a precautionary move. He had displayed coronavirus symptoms, including a temperature and a cough, for 10 days, and was in self-isolation in Downing Street, chairing meetings via videoconference and receiving government papers and meals at his door.
Johnson tweeted from his hospital bed on Monday afternoon: “Im in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe. Id like to say thank you to all the brilliant NHS staff taking care of me and others in this difficult time. You are the best of Britain.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is “praying for the prime ministers swift recovery tonight,” adding that St. Thomas Hospital, which lies on the banks of the River Thames opposite Westminster, had “some of the finest medical staff in the world.” Chancellor Rishi Sunak said his thoughts are with Johnson and the prime ministers fiancée, Carrie Symonds.
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said “all the countrys thoughts are with the prime minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time.”
International leaders also wished Johnson well. French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants to “send all my support to Boris Johnson, to his family and to the British people at this difficult moment.” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, too,