Boris Johnson has spent the night in intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened, leaving him struggling to breathe.
The prime minister was initially admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday evening, but his health deteriorated.
Mr Johnson was moved into intensive care at 7pm on Monday after being given oxygen – and Downing Street said he was suffering from “persistent” symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough and a high temperature.
The 55-year-old tested positive for coronavirus 11 days ago, and his worsening condition is a severe blow to the government.
Even if he makes a speedy recovery, he is likely to be unable to resume work for some time.
In his absence, Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab is chairing the coronavirus “war cabinet” that meets daily at 9.15am. This week’s regular Tuesday meeting of the full cabinet has been cancelled.
There will be fears among Tory MPs that – without the prime minister on hand to bang heads together – the fight against the virus could lead to interdepartmental rivalries in Whitehall and bickering between cabinet ministers involved in tackling the crisis.
In a dramatic announcement just after 8pm last night, a Number 10 spokesman said: “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.”
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