UK PM spends second day in ICU but is stable, says his deputy, Latest World News - The New Paper

UK PM spends second day in ICU but is stable, says his deputy

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LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a second night in intensive care and was in a stable condition yesterday after receiving oxygen support for Covid-19 complications, as questions were raised about how key decisions would be taken in his absence.

Mr Johnson, 55, who tested positive nearly two weeks ago, was admitted to St Thomas' hospital in London on Sunday evening with a persistent high temperature and cough. His condition then deteriorated and he was put in an intensive care unit.

He has received oxygen support, but was not put on a ventilator, and his designated deputy, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, said he would soon be back at the helm as the world faces one of its gravest public health crises in a century.

"He is comfortable, he's stable, he's in good spirits," Mr Edward Argar, a junior health minister, said. "While he's had oxygen, he hasn't been on a ventilator."

As Mr Johnson battled the coronavirus in hospital, Britain was entering what scientists said was the deadliest phase of the outbreak and grappling with the question of when to lift a lockdown.

Inside the government, ministers were debating how long the world's fifth-largest economy could afford to be shut down, and the long-term implications of one of the most stringent set of emergency controls in peacetime history.

The United Kingdom's total hospital deaths from Covid-19 rose by a record 786 to 6,159 on Monday, the latest publicly available death toll, though just 213,181 people out of the population of around 68 million have been tested.

Britain was in no position to lift the shutdown as the peak of the outbreak was still over a week away, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said.

"We are nowhere near lifting the lockdown," Mr Khan said.

Britain's uncodified constitution - an unwieldy collection of sometimes ancient and contradictory precedents - offers no clear, formal "Plan B". In essence, it is the prime minister's call and, if he is incapacitated, then up to Cabinet to decide.

Mr Raab said ministers had "very clear directions, very clear instructions" from Mr Johnson but it was not clear what would happen if crucial decisions needed to be made which strayed from the approved plan. - REUTERS