Boris Johnson is in “good spirits” after spending a “comfortable” night in hospital and remains there under observation, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.
At Downing Street’s daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, Mr Raab said the prime minister “continues to lead the government” from his hospital bed and is “being given regular updates on developments”.
However, the foreign secretary revealed he personally hadn’t spoken to the prime minister since Saturday.
Mr Johnson was admitted to hospital on Sunday night for tests after continuing to display symptoms of COVID-19.
Downing Street declined to give any details of the treatment the prime minister has received – or when he might be discharged.
In his role as First Secretary of State, Mr Raab is effectively deputy prime minister and earlier chaired the daily meeting of the government’s coronavirus “war cabinet” – usually led by Mr Johnson.
Speaking at the daily briefing later, the foreign secretary stressed Mr Johnson had been admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital – across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament – “as a precaution only”.
“He’s had a comfortable night in St Thomas’, he’s in good spirits, and he’s being regularly updated,” Mr Raab said
“And he still remains in charge of the government and we are getting on with all of the various strands of work to make sure at home and abroad we can defeat the virus and pull the country through coronavirus and the challenges that undoubtedly we’re facing at the moment.”
Mr Raab said the prime minister’s team are at “full throttle” in making sure Mr Johnson’s instructions are being followed through in the UK’s coronavirus response.
He also dismissed suggestions the prime minister was taking a risk in continuing to work from hospital.
“Just to be clear, the prime minister… in terms of going into St Thomas’ yesterday was taking the advice of doctors, so he’s followed the doctors’ advice there and, in terms of his recovery in the days ahead, will continue to do so,” Mr Raab said.
Pressed again on why Mr Johnson is sick enough to be in hospital but well enough to be running the country, Mr Raab said: “That’s something he will decide on the medical advice he’s received from his doctor.”
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, told the news conference he was not responsible for recommending the prime minister go to hospital and refused to answer specific details about Mr Johnson’s health.
But he added: “I can give a general answer which is the clear majority of people who do end up going to hospital, they end up going into a general bed, they may or may not need oxygen and other things, and they don’t need to go further than that.”
Prof Whitty, who has himself recently recovered from coronavirus, was the person to initially advise the prime minister to be tested for COVID-19.
He said he had offered no further medical advice to Mr Johnson other than to “take the medical advice of the excellent NHS doctors who are advising him”.
The PM wrote on Twitter on Monday: “Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
“I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.”
He also praised the “brilliant” NHS staff taking care of him – describing them as the “best of Britain” – as well as reiterating government advice for people to “stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives”.
Conservative MP James Duddridge, the Africa minister, had earlier told Mr Johnson to “rest, look after yourself and let the others do the heavy lift”.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street suggested the prime minister may have to learn he is “not indispensable and the team around you will step into your shoes”.
Downing Street dismissed a report in Russian state media that the PM was on a ventilator, describing it as “disinformation”.
“Our specialist government units have seen a rise in false and misleading narratives since the coronavirus pandemic started. It’s vital that any disinformation is knocked down quickly,” Mr Johnson’s spokesman said.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the prime minister had received his ministerial red box containing his official papers and was continuing to work from hospital.
The prime minister tested positive for the coronavirus on 27 March and had been self-isolating in the flat above 11 Downing Street.
His pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds revealed at the weekend she spent a week in bed with coronavirus symptoms.
Mr Johnson’s admission to hospital followed advice from his doctor, with his cough and high temperature continuing to persist more than a week after his diagnosis.
His spokesman said an ambulance was not required and Mr Johnson travelled the short distance from Number 10 by “private transportation”, but did not give any further details.
He stressed that it was “not an emergency admission”.
:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker.
Politicians from all sides sent get-well messages, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
US President Donald Trump also wished Mr Johnson well, describing him as “a great friend of mine” and adding: “I’m sure he is going to be fine, he’s a strong man, a strong person.”