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Boris Johnson ‘responding to treatment’ in intensive care with coronavirus

Dominic Lipinski

By Sam Blewett, Political Correspondent, and Gavin Cordon, Whitehall Editor, PA

Boris Johnson is “responding to treatment” as he remains in a stable condition in the intensive care unit where he is being treated for coronavirus, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister continued to be in “good spirits” on Wednesday after spending his third night in St Thomas’s Hospital in London, his official spokesman said.

Mr Johnson was said to no longer be working while following the advice of doctors and receiving just the “standard oxygen treatment” and “breathing without any other assistance”.

When asked about further specifics about his condition or treatment, the spokesman said the update includes all the information the PM’s medical team “considers to be clinically relevant”.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab again chaired the daily Covid-19 meeting on Wednesday morning as he deputises for Mr Johnson.

Asked if anyone has been in contact with the Prime Minister, the spokesman said: “The PM is not working, he’s in intensive care, he has the ability to contact those that he needs to, he’s following the advice of his doctors at all times.”

He added that Downing Street was “hugely grateful” for the messages of support that Mr Johnson has received as he undergoes treatment.

As the drive to boost care capacity continues, No 10 said the second NHS Nightingale Hospital will be opened on Friday at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

It follows the first of the temporary hospitals, at the ExCel centre in London, taking its first patients on Wednesday. A third facility was expected to be opened in Manchester in “the next week or so”.

Meanwhile, No 10 said the three-week review of the lockdown will take place “on or around” the three-week mark on Monday, the date Mr Johnson committed to when he announced the measures last month.

The PM’s spokesman urged the public to “stick with it” at the “critical time” and highlighted the Government’s key advisers having said it was too early to say when the pandemic would reach its peak, making it safe to ease the restrictions.

World Health Organisation regional director Dr Hans Kluge warned that the “progress” Europe had made so far was “extremely fragile”.

“To think we are coming close to an end point would be a dangerous thing to do. The virus leaves no room for error or complacency,” he added.

“Any shift in our response strategy, relaxing of lockdown status or physical distancing measures requires very careful consideration.”

With the number of cases continuing to rise in the UK, health minister Edward Argar also made clear now is not the time to start easing the restrictions.

“We need to start seeing the numbers coming down and that’s when you’re in the negative,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“That’s when you have a sense when that’s sustained over a period of time, that you can see it coming out of that.

“We’re not there yet and I don’t exactly know when we will be.”

It followed a similar warning on Tuesday from Mr Raab who said ministers first need to see evidence that the measures are working.

The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the figures “could be moving in the right direction”, but suggested they need another “week or so” before they could be sure.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the capital now has the capacity it needs to deal with the epidemic after the NHS Nightingale London accepted its first patients two weeks after its construction was formally announced.

“At the moment we’ve still got 25%, about there, capacity within the NHS (in London) before we even go to Nightingale, so it demonstrates the can-do attitude of not just Londoners but those around the country who have helped us get ready for the peak of this virus,” he told BBC Breakfast.

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump claimed the UK had called the US with an urgent plea for 200 ventilators, as ministers seek to scramble to boost capacity for the sickest of patients.

“We’re going to work it out, we’ve got to work it out. They’ve been great partners. They wanted 200, they need them desperately,” Mr Trump said.

In response, Downing Street said that the NHS had ventilator orders in place with manufacturers around the world, including in the US.

“We have been sourcing ventilators from around the world and that includes the US,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said the UK needs to learn from the example of Germany where the number of deaths appears to be growing more slowly.

“We all know that Germany got ahead in terms of its ability to do testing for the virus and there’s a lot to learn from that and we’ve been trying to learn the lessons from that,” he said.

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