Coronavirus: Boris Johnson improving in intensive care

UK Prime Minister has oxygen support but is not on ventilator

A policeman outside St.Thomas' Hospital in London.
A policeman outside St.Thomas' Hospital in London.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was responding to coronavirus treatment after a third night at a London hospital and was sitting up in bed speaking with medics.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson was making steady progress in intensive care, more than two weeks after revealing that he had tested positive.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, told said the leader “has been sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team” at St Thomas’s Hospital in central London.

The UK revealed its highest daily death toll, which reached 7,097 by Wednesday afternoon for increase of 938.

"The prime minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment. He is in good spirits," Mr Johnson's spokesman said.

The British leader, 55, has received oxygen support in intensive care but was not put on a ventilator.

His designated deputy, Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said Mr Johnson would soon be back at the helm as the world faces one of its gravest public health crisis in 100 years.

Mr Raab said ministers had "very clear directions, very clear instructions" from their leader.

The country is effectively in lockdown and the government has said it could look to extend the quarantine further.

Downing Street said on Wednesday that it was still too soon to say whether stringent social-distancing measures introduced on March 23 for an initial three weeks would be eased at all.

A review is expected next week as planned, despite suggestions of a power vacuum at the top of the British government with Mr Johnson's hospital stay.

"We've set out that we would make a further announcement in three weeks and there's no change to that, no change at all to the timeline," his spokesman said.

Mr Johnson's government has been criticised for not having tests to see whether people have, or have had, the disease.

Government testing adviser John Newton said the 100,000 daily test target by the end of the month was feasible, and that 20,000 National Health Service workers had already been tested.

"Testing capacity now is not what we would like but it is by no means inconsiderable in terms of what we need," Mr Newton said.

"We do anticipate that the need will increase dramatically and therefore we want to get as much testing in place as possible."

The UK is also desperately trying to obtain enough ventilators for its intensive care units.

Updated: April 8, 2020 11:56 PM

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