BORIS Johnson was tonight rushed into intensive care as his fight against coronavirus dramatically worsened.
Doctors watching the PM closely in hospital became alarmed at his deterioration this afternoon.
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The Prime Minister, 55, was transferred at around 7pm this evening after he was admitted into St Thomas’ in South London last night.
It it understood the PM was in good spirits this morning but this afternoon he began to struggle to breathe and needing oxygen.
He is not yet on a ventilator and is still conscious – but could be placed on one if it is needed.
But doctors were preparing a ventilation unit to be ready by his bedside should he worsen overnight.
Before he was transferred he officially passed on responsibilities to his defacto deputy, Dominic Raab.
Foreign Secretary Mr Raab, who is also the First Secretary of State, will now run the Government and take charge of the fight against the virus.
A shocked Mr Raab said this evening in a clip: “There’s an incredibly strong team spirit behind the Prime Minister, and making sure that we get all of the plans the Prime Minister’s instructed us to deliver to get them implemented as soon as possible.”
The condition of the PM had become worse over the course of the afternoon, and doctors made the decision to transfer him to intensive care in the early evening.
A 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 has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary.
“The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.”
The news comes 11 days after the PM was diagnosed with the virus.
Sky News reported that Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill broke the news to the rest of the Cabinet this evening.
Politicians from across the spectrum and around the world wished the PM the best tonight.
French President Macron said: “All my support for Boris Johnson, his family and the British people at this difficult time. I wish him to overcome this ordeal quickly.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Terribly sad news. All the country’s thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time.”
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “My thoughts are with the PM and his family – sending him every good wish.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Praying for the Prime Minister’s swift recovery tonight.”
The hashtag #PrayForBoris immediately began trending on Twitter.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak tweeted: “My thoughts tonight are with @BorisJohnson and @carriesymonds. I know he’ll be getting the best care possible and will come out of this even stronger.”
Mr Johnson’s former rival for the Tory leadership Jedremy Hunt added: “Keeping fighting Boris. Whole country behind you”.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “This is terrible news. I know the thoughts and prayers of everyone across the House are with the Prime Minister and his family right now.
“We all wish him a speedy recovery.”
Partner Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, has also suffered symptoms, and has been isolating separately from the PM.
She said on Saturday she was “on the mend” after seven days of rest.
Sun doctor Dr Carol Cooper said tonight: “Covid-19 is a new infection and we don’t know everything about it, but the experience so far shows that if complications develop from the second week onwards, they are potentially very serious.
“No patient is moved to intensive care unless the doctors are very concerned about their condition. It’s fair to say if Boris is in intensive care, then he’s fighting for his life right now.”
Boris had carried on working in No11 Downing Street for over a week despite being ill, dialing into conference calls and coordinating the daily Covid 19 meeting of ministers.
No10 aides had insisted earlier that his hospital stay was just as a precaution, where he would have routine tests.
They said he had been asked to stay in as a precaution for the meantime, but he would stay there as long as was needed.
No10 insisted his doctors had told him to go to hospital for additional checks and care because his symptoms of a cough and temperature had not gone away.
They even said he was continuing to work from hospital and was getting his red box delivered – prompting calls from MPs for him to step aside and focus on getting better.
Foreign Office minister James Duddridge called on Mr Johnson to “rest, look after yourself and let the others do the heavy lift”.
And Lord Kerslake, former head of the civil service, added: “I think in the end if he’s not well, he will have to reflect on this because the job’s tough at the best of times and it’s doubly tough now.”
Though unwell, the PM was still able to work on his red boxes as late as 12pm today.
At 5pm this evening Mr Raab had insisted the PM was still very much in charge and leading the Government through the crisis.
But he then admitted he hadn’t actually spoken to him since Saturday – before he went into hospital.
It is not known whether test results on Boris are conclusive yet, or whether he has developed pneumonia – a common condition among other serious sufferers.
A crisis call of senior ministers and key No10 aides was then convened to work through an emergency plan for Mr Raab to take over.
Officials said that while the Foreign Secretary has executive authority on all operational decision making, his powers stop short of being able to appoint a new Cabinet.
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Prof Derek Hill, Professor of Medical Imaging, University College London (UCL), said tonight that the PM would likely have had trouble breathing, which prompted him to go into hospital.
He said: “It seems he was initially put on oxygen, and was conscious.
“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.
“But there is no doubt this turn of events means Boris Johnson is extremely sick.”
And Professor Linda Bauld, Bruce and John Usher Chair in Public Health, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, said the news showed just how indiscriminate the virus was.
“Anyone anywhere, including the most privileged in our society, can be affected and can become seriously ill.
“It is imperative now, more than ever that the rest of us comply with government guidelines to stay at home and not put others at risk.
“Questions will be asked in future about whether the UK government acted appropriately in keeping parliament open and face to face meetings going while the rest of the country was already following advice to shut down.
“For now, however, all our thoughts will be with the Prime Minister and his family, and the many other families who are facing similar circumstances with critically ill relatives.”
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