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Boris Johnson has tweeted from hospital to thank the “brilliant” NHS staff as he continues to battle against coronavirus symptoms.
The government insists the prime minister is still “very much in charge” despite spending the night in hospital after being admitted for tests.
Downing Street said Johnson will stay there “as long as needed” after he was admitted on Sunday evening.
He was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in London as a “precautionary step” on the advice of his doctor, rather than as an emergency, a Number 10 spokeswoman said. Doctors said tests are likely to focus on his lungs.
I’d like to say thank you to all the brilliant NHS staff taking care of me and others in this difficult time. You are the best of Britain.
Stay safe everyone, and please remember to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) April 6, 2020
On Monday, he tweeted: “Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
“I’d like to say thank you to all the brilliant NHS staff taking care of me and others in this difficult time. You are the best of Britain.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said Johnson had a “comfortable night” and is in “good spirits”.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast: "I'm sure this is very frustrating for him, for somebody like Boris who wants to be hands on running the government from the front, but nonetheless he's still very much in charge of the government.
"Obviously today he's in hospital having the tests but he will continue to be kept informed as to what's happening and to be in charge of the government.”
A total of 4,934 patients – including frontline healthcare workers – have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, according to the latest figures issued by the Department of Health.
On Sunday, the Queen delivered a message of hope to the nation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying “we will overcome it”, although we “may have more still to endure”.
Johnson, 55, tested positive for the virus 10 days ago, and has been in self-isolation inside his Downing Street flat since then.
Former prime minister Tony Blair said Johnson’s hospital situation is “hellish”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I have every sympathy and solidarity with him. I know it must be a hellish situation to be in.”
Asked whether the prime minister should hand over control while ill, Blair said: “I’m not going to second-guess them on that.
“He knows the state of his own condition and he will be judging it carefully himself, I’m sure.”
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “On the advice of his doctor, the prime minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests.
“This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
“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.”
Johnson remains “in charge of the government” and in contact with ministerial colleagues and officials despite his hospital admission, said Downing Street.
But de facto deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, chaired the daily COVID-19 meeting on Monday morning in Johnson’s place.
His persistent symptoms are understood to include a high temperature.
His fiancée, Carrie Symonds, said on Saturday she was “on the mend” after spending a week in bed after also suffering coronavirus symptoms.
The 32-year-old, who is expecting the couple’s baby in early summer, has been self-isolating in Camberwell, south London, with their dog Dilyn.
The prime minister revealed on 27 March that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating with “mild symptoms” including a high temperature and persistent cough.
He has shared several video updates from his Number 11 flat since the diagnosis, and stepped outside to join the nationwide clap for key workers on Thursday evening, but has not been seen publicly since.
What tests will the prime minister have?
Boris Johnson is likely to undergo several tests to check his oxygen levels, white blood cell count, and liver and kidney function before he is released from hospital following his admission over COVID-19, according to doctors.
He is also likely to undergo an electrocardiogram to check his heart.
GP Dr Sarah Jarvis told the BBC the PM would also have his chest X-rayed and lungs scanned, particularly if he was found to be struggling for breath.
Dr Jarvis said around 80% of people who contract the virus only suffer from mild symptoms. The remaining 20% suffer moderate to severe illness.
Dr Jarvis said: “Under normal circumstances, given he is staying in charge of the government, that suggests to me that he probably has moderate disease.”
She added: “The main focus, though, is going to be on his lungs.
“The majority of people [with moderate or severe symptoms] are going to progress to have inflammation of the lungs and that inflammation can result in damage to lung tissue but also importantly can prevent oxygen being transferred into the bloodstream.”
She said it would probably take a few hours for the tests to be conducted and the scans analysed by a consultant.