Britain's Johnson 'stable' in intensive care


London (AFP) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was battling the coronavirus in intensive care on Tuesday, raising deep concerns about his health as the country recorded its highest daily death toll.

"The Prime Minister's condition is stable and he remains in intensive care for close monitoring. He is in good spirits," his official spokesman said in an update sent around 1800GMT, almost 24 hours since he was admitted to intensive care.

He earlier said the 55-year-old Conservative leader was receiving "standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance" and had not required a ventilator.

Johnson is the most high-profile government leader to become infected with COVID-19 and messages of support flooded in from across Britain and the world.

He was admitted to intensive care on Monday evening and asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him "where necessary", effectively putting him in charge.

Johnson had already spent Sunday night at a London hospital following concerns he still had a cough and high temperature 10 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

His transfer to intensive care is unprecedented for a prime minister during a national emergency.

For many people it brought home the seriousness of the disease that has so far seen 6,159 deaths in Britain, with a record 786 more reported in a daily update on Tuesday.

Raab backed his boss to beat the virus, telling a daily press briefing that "if there's one thing I know about this prime minister he's a fighter and he'll be back, leading us through this crisis in short order".

Despite the record daily death toll, there was more encouraging news with the number of new daily cases remaining at a roughly stable 3,643.

In a round of broadcast interviews, senior minister Michael Gove insisted the "work of government goes on". He later said he was now staying at home after a family member displayed mild coronavirus symptoms.

Raab chaired the daily coronavirus meeting in the prime minister's place on Tuesday, and is now officially in charge.

"There is a clear plan... the government and the cabinet are working together to implement that plan," Johnson's spokesman said when asked if there was a power vacuum in Britain.

The country does not have a formal constitutional role of deputy prime minister, and experts said Raab would need the support of the rest of the cabinet to make any big decisions.

The most pressing issue is a review expected next week on whether to... (Read more)

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