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The cabinet will “not flinch” in the fight against coronavirus while “fighter” Boris Johnson is being treated in critical care, de facto deputy PM Dominic Raab has said.
The foreign secretary said he was “confident” the prime minister would pull through, and be back at the helm “in short order”.
Johnson is being treated in an intensive care unit at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday night after suffering “persistent symptoms” of Covid-19.
Raab, who is the first secretary of state, said at today’s Downing Street briefing: “He’s not just our boss – he’s also a colleague and he’s also our friend.”
He added: “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.”
The prime minister was diagnosed with the disease some 11 days ago.
“He’s receiving the very best care from the excellent medical team at St Thomas’s Hospital. He remained stable overnight,” Raab said.
“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.”
Raab went on to 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.
Asked when the government will announce if lockdown measures will continue beyond next week, Raab suggested that they would.
He said: “The critical thing is to take evidence-based decisions and so we’ve said that we will take any review once we’ve got the evidence that the measures are working.
“And having the kind of impact taking past the peak which means that they can be responsibly done. We’re not at that stage yet.”
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty, who appeared alongside the foreign secretary, added: “It’s really important that we get to the point that we’re all confident that we’re beyond the peak and then at that point start making it clear what combination of things and over what period of time seems a sensible combination to take us through.
“Because as I said yesterday there are a large number of different things we need to take into account here in terms of the impact on health.
“The direct effects of the virus itself and also the indirect effects on the health service more widely.”
It came as health chiefs confirmed a further 786 deaths in hospital of people who have tested positive for coronavirus.
According to the NHS, patients who died in England were aged between 23 and 102. Of these, 29 patients – between the ages of 23 and 99 – had no known underlying health condition.
It brings the total to at least 6,227 – an increase of nearly 16%. Yesterday’s rise was a little over 8%, or 439 deaths.