First Secretary of State Dominic Raab said ministers wish Boris Johnson a speedy recovery in hospital, saying: “He’s not just our boss, he’s also a colleague and he’s also our friend”.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the Prime Minister as first secretary of state, updated the nation on Boris Johnson’s condition in hospital at the daily briefing – where he was joined by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
“He’s receiving the very best care from the excellent medical team at St Thomas’s Hospital. He remained stable overnight,” Mr Raab told the daily Downing Street press conference.
“He’s receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance, he’s not required any mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.
“He remains in good spirits and in keeping with usual clinical practise his progress continues to be monitored closely in critical care.”
Mr Raab said he was “confident” the Prime Minister would pull through after being transferred to intensive care for coronavirus treatment.
He told a Number 10 press briefing: “I think it is worth remembering that, as will be the case for many people up and down the country who know someone at work who has fallen ill with coronavirus, it is a shock to all of us.
“He is not just the Prime Minister. For all of us in Cabinet, he is not just our boss.
“He is also a colleague and he is also our friend. So all our thoughts and prayers are with the Prime Minister at this time, with Carrie (Symonds) and his whole family.
“And I’m confident he will pull through because if there is one thing that I know about this Prime Minister is he is a fighter and he will be back leading us through this crisis in short order.”
First Secretary of State Mr Raab said he could reassure the public that work was continuing on tackling Covid-19 in the PM’s absence.
He said: “For us in Cabinet, we know exactly what he wants from us and expects from us right now.
“And following Cabinet discussions today, I can reassure the Prime Minister and we can reassure the public that his team will not blink or flinch in the task ahead at this crucial moment.
“We will keep all of our focus and all of our resolve, with calm determination, on delivering the Government’s plan to defeat the coronavirus.”
Mr Raab said he had “total confidence” in the arrangements the Prime Minister had put in place to allow the Foreign Secretary to deputise for him.
Mr Raab said that the cabinet has “very clear instructions” from the Prime Minister whilst he remains in hospital.
He said: “Well first of all, decision making by Government is made by collective Cabinet responsibilities, so that is the same as before.
“But we’ve got very clear directions, very clear instructions from the Prime Minister, and we’re focused with total unity and total resolve on implementing them so that when he’s back, I hope in very short order, we will have made the progress that he would expect and that the country would expect.”
Asked whether the Government had decided to extend the lockdown, Mr Raab said the worst thing the country could do was “take its foot off the pedal” in terms of the strict social distancing measures.
He said: “In terms of the review, we are not at that stage yet.
“We will take any decision when the time is right, based on the facts and the scientific and medical advice.
“Our number one and overriding focus right now is on conveying the key message which is that everyone needs to keep adhering to this guidance.
“There is a long Easter bank holiday weekend coming up, warm weather and we understand people are making big sacrifices to follow this guidance.
“It is helping, it is contributing to our ability to tackle the coronavirus.
“The worst thing now would be to take our foot off the peddle, to ease up on that and risk losing the gains that have been made.
“It is absolutely critical that people keep up that discipline and the vast majority will. We hope everyone will follow that example.”
The Government’s chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance said the number of new cases “could be moving in the right direction” but it would not be clear “for a week or so”.
He told the daily Downing Street press conference: “It’s possible that we’re beginning to see the beginning of change in terms of the curve flattening a little bit.
“We won’t know that for sure for a week or so.
“There hasn’t been the accelerated take-off and again it’s possible that we’re beginning to see the start of a change where we might see numbers flattening off.
“It does begin to suggest that things might be moving in the right direction in terms of numbers and it’s important that we carry on with the measures that we have got in place in order to make sure that this does go in the right direction.”
Sir Patrick said there should not be an overall increase in demand above the number of ICU beds available.
He said: “There are always times in every winter when ICU beds top out in individual hospitals, and that may happen and I can’t guarantee it won’t.
“What we can say, though, is that the numbers as we look at them now look as though we should come in about right, there shouldn’t be an overall increase above the number of beds available.
“The NHS, I think, has done an amazing job in terms of increasing the capacity of ICU and so things seem to be tracking in the right direction, but I don’t think I can say more than that.”
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