Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he was sick the COVID-19 coronavirus, but said that he was feeling fine despite his diagnosis. However, it appears that his condition may have taken a turn for the worse.
A tweet from the Prime Minister this morning promised that this is only a “precautionary step” that his being taken on the advice of his doctor, and insisted that this is not an emergency visit, but it appears that it may have become one.
Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms. I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) April 6, 2020
Hours after that initial announcement was made, it was reported that Johnson was transferred to the intensive care unit.
“Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital. The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all [National Health Service] staff for their hard work and dedication,” a spokesperson said.
If his condition does become more serious, it could mean trouble for the government of the UK, because there is no clear precedent for a line of succession if something should happen to the prime minister.
According to Reuters, Johnson is still considered in charge of the British government.
Johnson is not the only member of the UK government who has the illness. Health Secretary Matt Hancock also announced that he had tested positive for the virus, just after Johnson made his announcement. Hancock is working from home with mild symptoms. Johnson’s pregnant 32-year-old fiancee, Carrie Symonds, also had symptoms but later said that she was feeling better. It is not clear whether or not she has been tested.
71-year-old Prince Charles, of Wales, also tested positive for the coronavirus last month, and is currently being isolated at his residence at Birkhall, on the Balmoral estate. However, representatives for the prince say that he is otherwise in good health.
There are many other world leaders who are currently in isolation, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Germany’s Angela Merkel, who have not tested positive for the illness, but have come into contact with others who have. There have also been suspicions that the controversial Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro may have also been infected with the virus. He has shown signs of illness at press conferences, but has insisted that he has been tested twice and both tests came back negative. However, he has provided no proof to back up his claims.
Derek Hill, professor of medical imaging science at University College London, guessed that the precautions being taken are a result of Johnson’s age and public stature.
“We don’t know exactly why the PM has gone to hospital except we have been told he is having tests. Many people attending hospital with COVID-19 have difficulty breathing. Some people are rapidly discharged. Some others can quickly deteriorate and need help breathing. We have no reason to believe the PM needs such help,” Hill said.
As a result of the economic shutdown and looming unemployment in the country, in addition to the uncertain future of the country’s leadership, the stock market and currency in the UK have been in rough shape in recent weeks.