British Government will carry on in fight against Covid-19, says Gove

Ministers in the UK have insisted the business of government will carry on after Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care following a worsening of his coronavirus symptoms.

The British Prime Minister was transferred to the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital last night as what was said to be a “precaution” in case he needed to be put on a ventilator.

The senior British Cabinet minister Michael Gove said that he had received “oxygen support” but was not on a ventilator.

“He is kept, of course, under close supervision, ” he told LBC radio.

“By being in intensive care if there is further support he needs it is there at hand.

“But the Prime Minister has not been on a ventilator.”

In Mr Johnson’s absence, Dominic Raab, the UK's Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, is standing in for him “where necessary”.

The deterioration in the Prime Minister’s condition comes at a critical moment in the coronavirus crisis, the epidemic is expected to reach its peak in the UK in the coming days.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will deputise for Mr Johnson when necessary (Dominic Lipinski/PA)</figcaption>
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will deputise for Mr Johnson when necessary (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

There was a palpable sense shock at Westminster and beyond at the speed of his apparent decline following his admission to hospital on Sunday.

Downing Street said at the time the move was a “precautionary step” as his symptoms of a cough and high temperature were continuing to persist after 10 days in self-isolation.

Initially he was said to have been continuing to work from his hospital bed and that he was receiving his ministerial red boxes.

But by 7pm yesterday the decision was made to transfer him to intensive care so that a ventilator was close at hand if required.

The Cabinet was informed shortly afterwards and the move was made public in an announcement by No 10 shortly after 8pm.

Mr Gove said that he was receiving the “very, very best care” and insisted that the government machine was continuing to function.

“We’re all working together to implement the plan the Prime Minister set out in order to try to ensure that we can marshal all the resources of government, indeed all the resources of our country, in the fight against this invisible enemy,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“The work of government goes on.

“We have a superb civil service and they have ensured that the machinery is there for decisions to be made by ministers, by medical and scientific experts and for those decisions to be followed through in a way which enables us to help those at the frontline.”