Ever since UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed he’d tested positive for coronavirus, he’s been insisting that he’s fit enough to continue steering the nation through this crisis. But Mr. Johnson has now been admitted to hospital for breathing problems associated with the virus, suggesting his condition is rapidly deteriorating.
On Sunday night, Downing Street revealed that Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital for additional testing. Reports out Monday morning said Johnson was given an oxygen treatment to help his breathing. According to WHO documents, patients suffering from severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) are given oxygen therapy .
A study from Wuhan breaks down how the disease is expected to progress. On day 10, the day Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital, it suggests patients with acute respiratory distress are admitted to intensive care . The study suggests that shortness of breath will have abated by day 13 for those who survive the virus.
In any case, the PM looks unlikely to be out any time soon— the average hospitalized coronavirus patient stays for more than a week . That begs the question— who’s in charge?
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick says the PM is fit enough to run the country from his hospital bed . But many are starting to doubt transparency regarding Johnson’s condition. After all, just hours before his hospital stay was announced, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was doing well though he conceded Mr. Johnson had a temperature.
He’s working away inside Downing Street. He’s in good spirits.
But the UK is in need of strong leadership right now as it approaches a crucial juncture this weekend as lockdown measures are reassessed. While Johnson initially hoped to be moving toward loosening restrictions on the public’s movements, there have been some concerns that people were starting to ignore the distancing regulations amid nicer weather.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will take Boris Johnson’s place if he is deemed incapable of continuing to lead the country. Raab has already begun to take on Johnson’s day-to-day tasks, but the Prime Minister is said to be making the strategic decisions.
But should Raab step in now? That’s hotly contested among UK’s leadership. MP Tobias Ellwood said Johnson’s return is an important factor in the successful navigation of the coronavirus crisis.
When you’re fighting a battle such as this you need swift and informed decision-making and that’s often by the person at the very, very top. And that’s why getting the Prime Minister back to No.10 as soon as possible is critical.
Some also point to Raab’s controversial reputation as a reason the Foreign Secretary makes for a lackluster replacement . When he was appointed, many inside the UK Government were resistant. The public has been equally as unimpressed— Raab’s approval rating stands at just 13% .
If the UK is to extend lockdown measures, trust among the public will be paramount as fatigue sets in. Without the Prime Minister to deliver the news, there could be some pushback— especially among those who don’t respect Raab as a leader.