Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Michael Gove says Boris Johnson's intensive care battle is 'truly frightening'

Michael Gove admitted Boris Johnson's intensive care battle is 'truly frightening' today as he said ministers are 'praying' for his swift recovery.

Mr Johnson was moved to ICU at St Thomas' Hospital in central London and given oxygen after his health deteriorated sharply over just two hours, leaving doctors fearing he will need a ventilator.

The 55-year-old was transferred to intensive care at 7pm because of breathing difficulties - forcing him to 'deputise' Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to take the reins of government.

In a round of broadcast interviews this morning, Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove said Mr Johnson was getting the 'best care'.

'As we speak the PM is in intensive care being looked after by his medical team receiving the very, very best care from the team in St Thomas' and our hopes and prayers are with him and with his family,' he told BBC Breakfast.   

He said Mr Johnson's plight should demonstrate the need to follow social distancing rules, as the virus 'has a malevolence that is truly frightening'. 
 


Mr Gove played down concerns that the government will be paralysed with the leader out of action, insisting that Mr Johnson had already been on a 'stripped back diary' for days and 'Cabinet is the supreme decision making body', 

However, within hours it had emerged that Mr Gove himself had also been impacted by coronavirus, as he has gone into self-isolation following a family member displaying symptoms. 

Mr Gove also dodged questions about whether Mr Raab has been given crucial national security responsibilities such as control of the nuclear deterrent and military.  


New Prime Ministers usually write 'letters of last resort' to nuclear submarine captains, setting out instructions if government is wiped out by an enemy strike. However, it is not clear whether Mr Johnson's letters will still apply, or Mr Raab will pen new versions.

MPs have raised alarm that hostile states such as Russia - which has already been accused of spreading disinformation about Mr Johnson's condition - could try to exploit Britain's 'weakness'. 

General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said the armed forces 'work straight through to the Prime Minister', although he suggested the National Security Council (NSC) will now fill the gap. 

The Queen is being kept informed about Mr Johnson's condition. The monarch appoints the PM, choosing the individual who is best placed to carry a majority in the Commons.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump revealed he has offered to send Mr Johnson experimental drugs to treat his coronavirus.

'I've asked two of the leading companies ... They've come with the solutions and just have done incredible jobs – and I've asked him to contact London immediately,' Mr Trump said. 'The London office has whatever they need. We'll see if we can be of help. We've contacted all of Boris's doctors, and we'll see what is going to take place, but they are ready to go.' 

The PM's sharp downturn came 11 days after he first suffered coronavirus symptoms and went into isolation. He looked increasingly unwell when glimpsed in public and in 'selfie' videos posted on on social media, and ministers were then shocked by his grim appearance at a Zoom conference on Sunday.

Downing Street sources confirmed Mr Johnson is not yet on a ventilator - but was moved to intensive care to be near one if needed. Some medical experts forecasting this course of action is now 'very likely'.

Two thirds of patients in intensive care with coronavirus are sedated and put on a ventilator within 24 hours of arriving as the illness attacks their lungs. 

As the Prime Minister was treated in hospital:


  • Aides to Mr Gove said he was following the official guidance by going into quarantine for 14 days, but was not himself feeling ill and would continue working;
  • The Queen has issued a message to NHS workers praising their 'selfless coommitment and diligence' as she marked World Health Day amid the coronavirus crisis; 
  • A further 439 UK coronavirus deaths were announced yesterday, taking the toll to 5,373, while the number of patients rose by 3,802 to 51,608;
  • World leaders and politicians around the globe rallied around Mr Johnson, who received well wishers from David Cameron, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump;
  • Health experts have warned that the PM's admission to intensive care means he is 'extremely sick' and he is 'likely' to need a ventilator; 


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