Boris Johnson WILL continue to lead virus battle from hospital – but stand-in Raab hasn’t spoken to him since Saturday


The PM, 55, was admitted to St Thomas’ hospital in London on Sunday evening – 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus – and remains there this evening.

Boris Johnson’s last video message urged Brits not to go out at the weekend in sunny weather
Boris Johnson applauds for the NHS on Thursday night
Boris tweeted today to thank the NHS staff looking after him

The PM has insisted that despite his illness, he’s still leading Britain’s fight against the pandemic and will carry on working.

Taking the daily Downing Street press conference this evening, Dominic Raab stressed: “He was admitted for tests as precaution only and that is because some of the symptoms had persisted.

“He is being readily updated, he remains in charge of the Government, and we are getting on with the varying strands of work.”

And he insisted when pressed over it: “The PM is in charge, he is leading the Government, giving directions as and when required.”

But Boris’ stand-in revealed today that he hadn’t actually spoken to the PM since Saturday – at least a day before he went into hospital.

Mr Raab added: “I spoke to the PM over the weekend, I chaired the morning meeting, he is being kept abreast of all the developments.”

The PM has instead been in touch with No10 officials about the day-to-day running of the Government and getting his red box of work and papers delivered.

Professor Chris Whitty – who returned to the press conference today after taking time away over his own coronavirus symptoms – added: “There are some in a hospital bed who are perfectly capable of managing complex things from a hospital bed, there are others who are not.”

Earlier the Foreign Secretary chaired the Covid-19 daily meeting in his place, and is expected to continue to do so during his absence.

But pressure was growing today for Boris to formally step down while he recovers – and hand over the reigns to other members of his top team.

If he becomes more unwell the PM has the power to delegate responsibility to any minister, but Mr Raab is technically his number two.

It is understood Chancellor Rishi Sunak and then Michael Gove are next in the chain of command.

Boris tweeted this lunchtime to thank the doctors taking care of him, calling them “the best of Britain” .

He said: “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.

“I’d 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.

“Stay safe everyone, and please remember to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”

One Tory MP said he should stop trying to be copy Winston Churchill’s leadership during the Second World War and instead let another Cabinet minister take charge while he’s sick.

They told the Telegraph: “Unfortunately he has written too many books on Churchill and wants to be the guy – he needs to be Boris Johnson and not try to be someone else.”

Another MP told the BBC: “‘He might be ill for a month and that’s a month the country can’t afford.”

One former Cabinet minister added: “I think it would be better for him to take time off properly and recover fully. I wonder why this is not the public approach.”

Most people manage to shake off their symptoms after a week, with doctors saying patients are at risk of developing pneumonia if a temperature persists.

The Times said today the PM was given oxygen treatment after arriving there by car, but Downing Street refused to comment on his specific treatment.

They said this morning that he had a “comfortable night” in hospital and was “under observation” by doctors.

No10 stressed it was not an emergency trip and was a planned visit on advice from his doctor.

He is still suffering from a cough and a temperature.

A spokesperson said earlier: “The issue is that his symptoms have remained persistent.

“He remains in hospital under observation.

“Any information which the PM needs to be updated on or any decisions that require action from the PM, that is what will happen.
“He is receiving updates in hospital and continues to receive a red box.”

The PM has been in touch with No10 colleagues during his stay, and it’s not yet known when he will be returning home.

He will keep in touch with his doctors and be guided by them if he is too unwell to work.

Officials didn’t comment on whether the PM was in a private ward or sharing with other patients.

The admission was a “precautionary step”, officials said yesterday.

Dominic Raab gave the daily briefing today at No10 – insisting the PM was still in charge
Carrie Symonds also developed symptoms of the disease last week

Dr Rupert Beale, from the Francis Crick Institute, said Mr Johnson is likely to be monitored for signs such as oxygen saturation.

He said: “They will also check blood tests to see what the immune response to the virus looks like, and to assess liver and kidney function.

“They will perform an electrocardiogram to check the heart.

“More sophisticated tests may include a CT scan of the chest to get an accurate picture of the lungs.

“They will consider the best way to deliver oxygen and will also consider other treatments depending on test results.”

GP Dr Ellie Cannon said the most common reason coronavirus patients are admitted to hospital was for “signs of breathlessness”.

She added that having the virus beyond ten days is a “red flag” and some patients who failed to get rid of the symptoms had developed a bacterial infection on top of the virus.

Dr Cannon told Sky News: “The breathlessness is a worrying sign of severe illness and can happen at any point of the illness, it can happen on Day seven or Day ten.”

Ministers urged Boris to oficially step down from leading the charge today and focus on getting better.

James Duddridge MP said: “Take care boss. Get well. Come back fighting. But for now rest, look after yourself and let the others do the heavy lift.”

Meanwhile, it was reported this afternoon that Labour frontbencher Tony Lloyd has been hospitalised over coronavirus too.

The Shadow Scottish and Northern Ireland Secretary is in hospital in Manchester but is said to be stable.

Michael Gove’s wife Sarah Vine tweeted last night that he was working flat out despite being ill.

She said: “Boris has worked non-stop throughout his illness – and now we see the result.”

And a Cabinet minister told the Financial Times: “This may be the jolt, the wake-up call that he realises he has to rest to recover.

“He will have been very reluctant to go to hospital.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said this morning he has heard the PM is “doing well”.

He told Radio 4: “He has worked phenomenally hard.

“I know for him personally it must have been very frustrating for him to go into hospital for these tests when he wants to be leading from the front.

“He will updated regularly while he in hospital as he has done when he is self isolating.”

Aides said he would stay in for as long as he needs to.

Last night, US President Donald Trump said the whole of America was praying for a speedy recovery for Mr Johnson.

He said at a press conference in the White House: “I want to express our nation’s well wishes to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he wages his own personal fight with the virus.

“All Americans are praying for him, he’s a friend of mine, he’s a great gentleman and a great leader.

“He was brought to the hospital today but I’m hopeful and sure he will be fine. He’s a strong man, strong person.”

New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Tory leadership rival Jeremy Hunt were among many British politicians who wished him well.

The most common signs of coronavirus in confirmed cases of Covid-19 from China up to February 22, 2020
Donald Trump hailed ‘friend’ and ‘a great leader’ Boris Johnson

The PM’s last on-camera engagement with the public was on Friday, when he recorded a Twitter video telling viewers he still had symptoms so was following Public Health England guidance to stay in self-isolation.

His voice sounded croaky and he appeared exhausted.

It emerged on Saturday that Mr Johnson’s pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds, 32, also suffered from coronavirus symptoms..

But she said she was “on the mend” after spending a week in bed.

She tweeted on Saturday night: “I haven’t needed to be tested and, after seven days of rest, I feel stronger and I’m on the mend. Being pregnant with ­Covid-19 is obviously worrying.”