Countdown to crisis: Boris Johnson's coronavirus descent
Countdown to crisis: Hour-by-hour, how Boris Johnson went from video selfies insisting his coronavirus illness was ‘mild’ and clapping NHS workers, to a hospital bed and then intensive care
- Four weeks ago PM still saying it was ok to shake hands if you washed them after
- Today he is in a London hospital in intensive care after condition deteriorated
- His own personal battle mirrors the impact that coronavirus has had on the UK
Boris Johnson’s admission to intensive care last night caps a dramatic four-week coronavirus pandemic experience for the Prime Minister.
Just four weeks ago was still shaking hands at official engagements and ahead of interviews with the likes of Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, and insisting it was fine as long as you washed your hands afterwards.
A month later he is in an intensive care until at London’s St Thomas’s Hospital receiving oxygen treatment and Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, has taken temporary charge, as a worried nation waits for news.
Here we look at how the Prime Minister was laid low by the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands in the UK alone.
March: the coronavirus pandemic escalates
Just four weeks ago was still shaking hands at official engagements and ahead of interviews with the likes of Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, and insisting it was fine as long as you washed your hands afterwards
Within the month he had first shutdown pubs and clubs (left) and then told the entire nation to stay at home as much as possible
At the start of March the Prime Minister was cheerily telling everyone the most important thing they could do was wash their hands.
On March 5 he went on ITV’s This Morning and gaily shook hands with his hosts as he tried to reassure Britons that he would ‘keep the country fed’ during the coronavirus outbreak in a bid to stop panic-buyers from raiding supermarket shelves and stockpiling food.
He later hosts a reception for International Women’s Day in Downing Street with MP Nadine Dorries – who would become the first minister to contract Covid-19.
But within days he was forced to change the approach of a light-touch regime.
Although on March 9 he shook hands with heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua as a Commonwealth celebration at Westminster Abbey, by then he was trying not to and stopped himself from clasping paws with a bishop.
On March 10 he said people should avoid shaking hands, to shame other people into washing their hands. Mass gatherings were banned on March 16 and on March 20 he closed pubs, restaurants and theatres at press conference with Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Three days later, amid signs of rules being flouted he ordered a UK-wide lockdown, with people told to stay at home in a special televised address
Friday March 27: Boris tests positive
Just 10 days ago the Prime Minister used a video released on Twitter to reveal that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
He was urged to seek a test by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and after testing positive immediately went into self isolation for what was expected to be a straightforward seven days, in line with Government advice.
At the time he was said to be experiencing ‘mild symptoms’ and insisted he would continue to work from a specially sectioned-off part of 11 Downing Street, where he lives.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also tested positive the same day and took the same steps.
Saturday March 28: still in charge
Images are released by Downing Street showing Mr Johnson chairing the daily Covid-19 meeting remotely, appearing on a big screen while advisers and ministers are in another room in Downing Street.
Later that day, Business Secretary Alok Sharma (pictured above) deputises for him at the daily televised press conference
Tuesday March 31: Chairs digital Cabinet meeting
Half-way through his week of isolation, Boris becomes the first British prime minister to hold a Cabinet meeting entirely digitally.
His top team, by this time working from home, as Parliament has risen for an early recess, join him via the Zoom app (pictured above). No 10 continue to say that his symptoms are mild.
Wednesday April 1
Thursday April 2: NHS clap and first doubts appear
Boris Johnson, for the second time, joined the nation in going outside their homes and applauding the efforts of the UK’s heroic NHS medical staff, battling to save lives from the coronavirus.
But by this time, doubts have begun to appear about the prime Minister’s health.
At a regular briefing for reporters that morning his official spokesman confirmed that we was still suffering from a high temperature and was unable to confirm whether Mr Johnson would be leaving quarantine as planned the following day.
He told political reporters: ‘We are more aware than anyone of what the guidelines are and we will ensure that they are followed.
‘The guidance is that you should stay at home for seven days or for longer if a high temperature persists.’
Friday April 3: Boris reveals he is staying in self-isolation
On Friday, the PM released a selfie-style video from self-isolation in Number 11 revealing he still had the symptoms of Covid-19. This evening he was admitted to intensive care
On Friday Mr Johnson uses a video message on social media to confirm that he will not be exiting self-isolation, because he continues to have a high temperate
‘Although I’m feeling better, and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom – I still have a temperature,’ he revealed.
‘So in accordance with Government advice I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes.’
Mr Johnson also urged people today to stick to the regulations over the weekend and not to be tempted by the forecast of good weather.
He said: ‘I reckon a lot of people will be starting to think that this is all going on for quite a long time and would rather be getting out there, particularly if you’ve got kids in the household, everybody may be getting a bit stir crazy, and there may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out and start to break the regulations.
‘I just urge you not to do that. Please, please stick with the guidance now.
Saturday April 4: Carrie Symonds reveals she has had coronavirus symptoms
The following day Mr Johnson’s pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds reveals she has been self isolating for a week at the couple’s home in south London.
Ms Symonds, 32, posted on Twitter: ‘I’ve spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of Coronavirus. I haven’t needed to be tested and, after seven days of rest, I feel stronger and I’m on the mend.
‘Being pregnant with Covid-19 is obviously worrying. To other pregnant women, please do read and follow the most up to date guidance which I found to be v reassuring.’
Pregnant women were placed in a vulnerable group by the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty on March 16.
Sunday April 5, 8.30am: Matt Hancock says Boris is ‘OK’
The Health Secretary was asked by Sky’s Sophy Ridge what Mr Johnson’s condition is.
He replies: ‘He’s okay, I’ve been talking to him every day, often several times a day, throughout this, throughout the time that both of us were off and so he has very much got his hand on the tiller but he has still got a temperature.
‘In a way it shows this virus affects different people differently. I was lucky, I had two pretty rough days and then I bounced back and some people do get it pretty mildly, and then for others it’s very, very serious and the Prime Minister is not at that end of the spectrum.
‘He’s working away inside Downing Street but he is protecting others by making sure that he too follows the clear public health advice, which is to self-isolate if you have got symptoms.
April 5, 9.38am: PM urges the public to stay at home
Mr Johnson is well enough on Sunday morning to tweet to the public to follow advice to stay indoors.
Sunday April 5, 9.10pm: No 10 reveals the PM is in hospital
In a short press released late on Sunday night, hours after Matt Hancock had told the nation that the Prime Minister was ‘OK’, Downing Street revealed he had been admitted to hospital ‘for tests’.
‘This is a precautionary step, as the Prime Minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus,’a spokesman said.
‘The Prime Minister thanks NHS staff for all of their incredible hard work and urges the public to continue to follow the Government’s advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’
Monday April 6, noon: Downing Street stonewalls over the Prime Minister’s heath
In the regular daily media briefing Downing Street is deluged with a pledthora of questions about the Prime Minister’s heath.
His official spokesman declines to say when he might be leaving St Thomas’s Hospital.
Asked if the symptoms remain ‘mild’ he describes them as ‘persistent’ and reveals the PM has ‘a temperature and a cough’ but is continuing to receive his red box of official government documents.
‘The PM remains in charge of the Government,’ he says.
‘In terms of the 9.15am coronavirus meeting, that was taken today by Dominic Raab as First Secretary of State. Dominic Raab will continue to to chair that meeting while the PM is in hospital.’
Monday April 6, 1.20pm: Boris says he is in ‘good spirits’
Boris Johnson is well enough to tweet from his hospital bed – or have someone do it on his behalf – as he sends the nation an update.
He says he is in ‘good spirits’ and is keeping in touch with aides.
Monday April 6, 5pm: Dominic Raab reveals he has not spoken to PM for days
Taking the daily live televised press conference, Dominic Raab admits he had last spoken to the PM on Saturday – almost 48 hours before being sent to brief the nation about his well-being and efforts to tackle Covid-19.
It raises questions about how seriously ill Mr Johnson is, if he has not been speaking to his second in command.
Monday, April 6, 7pm: Boris Johnson is transferred to intensive care after his condition deteriorates
This change comes hours after his official spokesman has said he was well enough to receive government documents in his hospital bed and communicate with senior aides.
Monday April 6, 8.11pm: No 10 reveals the deterioration
In another short press statement No 10 reveals that the Prime Minister has been moved to intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, 11 days after testing positive.
‘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 moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital,’ a spokeswoman said.
‘The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary. The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.’
Monday April 6, 9pm: Dominic Raab says PM is in ‘safe hands’
In a statement recorded after Mr Johnson’s admission, Mr Raab said: ‘The Government’s business will continue.
‘The Prime Minister is in safe hands with that brilliant team at St Thomas’ Hspital, and the focus of the Government will continue to be on making sure that the Prime Minister’s direction, all the plans for making sure that we can defeat coronavirus and can pull the country through this challenge, will be taken forward.’
Monday April 6, 11pm: Trump sends prayers and medicine offer
US President Donald Trump said Americans are praying for Mr Johnson’s recovery.
He tells reporters at the White House that the British leader has ‘been a really good friend’.
‘He’s been really something very special, strong, resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up,’ Mr Trump said.
‘When you get brought into intensive care, that gets very, very serious with this particular disease.’
Tuesday April 7, 7.50am: Michael Gove says PM has been on lighter duties
Chancllor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said that while Mr Johnson had been chairing meetings, he had been working to a ‘stripped-back diary’and following medical advice.
The minister, who is himself self-isolating because of an infection in his family, told BBC Breakfast: ‘That’s reflected the medical advice that the Prime Minister has had but ultimately one of the things about this new and uniquely challenging virus is that we must all follow the appropriate medical advice.’
He said everyone is discovering that the virus ‘has a malevolence that is truly frightening’.
Tuesday April 7, noon: Condition update
The PM’s spokesman told reporters today: ‘The Prime Minister has been stable overnight and remains in good spirits.
‘He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance.
‘He has not required mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.’
Tuesday April 7, 1.30pm: Vladimor Puton sends his best wishes
The Russian president sent a message to Boris Johnson following his admission to hospital, wishing him a ‘quick and full recovery’.
The Kremlin said the message read, in part: ‘I would like to express my sincere support in this difficult moment. I am confident that your energy, optimism and sense of humour will help you defeat the illness.’
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