British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to an intensive care unit after his coronavirus symptoms worsened, and his Downing Street office says he is still conscious.
Britain has no formal succession plan should the prime minister become incapacitated, but Johnson, 55, asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him.
Johnson was admitted to hospital on Sunday night and had been undergoing tests after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature, for more than 10 days.
Downing Street had said he was in good spirits and still in charge, though he was moved to an intensive care unit – where the most serious cases are treated – at St Thomas’ hospital, across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament in central London.
Johnson had received oxygen, a source said.
“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 mov ed to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital,” a spokesman for his office said.
“The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary,” Downing Street said.
“The PM remains conscious at this time.”
Downing Street said he had been moved to the ICU as “a precaution should he require ventilation to aid his recovery”.
Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 26.
He has faced criticism for initially approving a much more modest response to the new coronavirus outbreak than other European leaders, saying on March 3 that he had been shaking hands with coronavirus patients.
He changed tack when scientific projections showed a quarter of a million people could die in the United Kingdom. On Monday, health officials said Britain’s death toll stood at 5373.
Johnson effectively shuttered the world’s fifth-largest economy, advising people to stay at home and the elderly or infirm to isolate themselves for weeks.
The virus had already penetrated the British government.
Johnson and his health minister tested positive last month and chief medical adviser Chris Whitty also self-isolated. Johnson’s pregnant 32-year-old fiancée, Carrie Symonds, also had symptoms but said on Saturday she was feeling better.
Australian Associated Press