LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalised on Monday undergoing tests after suffering persistent symptoms of coronavirus for ten days but remains in charge of the government.
The Conservative leader announced on March 27 that he had tested positive for COVID-19, and has been self-isolating in his apartment above Downing Street ever since.
On Sunday evening, on the advice of his doctor, the prime minister was admitted to hospital for tests in what his office said was a precautionary step, although he still has a high temperature among other symptoms.
“Today he’s in hospital having the tests, but he will continue to be kept informed as to what’s happening and to be in charge of the government,” housing minister, Robert Jenrick, told British media.
Jenrick said the prime minister had been working “phenomenally hard” during the crisis. The government has imposed unprecedented restrictions on public movement to try to stop the virus spreading.
“I’m sure this is very frustrating for him, somebody like Boris who wants to be hands on running the government from the front,” he said. “But nonetheless he is still very much in charge of the government.”
Britain is in the middle of a serious coronavirus outbreak with almost 50,000 confirmed hospital cases and nearly 5,000 deaths so far. Johnson is the most high-profile world leader to contract the virus. Health minister, Matt Hancock, and Prince Charles have both been infected but have since recovered.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been nominated to take over temporarily if the prime minister is incapacitated, chaired the government’s daily coronavirus meeting on Monday morning in Johnson’s place.
Johnson has struggled with his weight but is otherwise not known to have any underlying health issues. There are concerns as to whether he should have eased workload while he was ill.
US President Donald Trump said he was “hopeful and sure” Johnson would recover, calling the prime minister “a friend of mine” and a “great leader”.
Johnson’s pregnant partner, Carrie Symonds, moved out of Downing Street after a staff member fell ill. She said on Saturday she had just spent a week in bed with symptoms and has not been tested.
Officials say Johnson was admitted to hospital not because his condition worsened but because it had not improved. There was no need for an ambulance. “The prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus,” a spokeswoman said.