Boris Johnson Hospitalized For Testing After Coronavirus Diagnosis

By James Doubek NPR

Updated at 5:00 a.m. ET on March 6

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus last month, has been admitted to the hospital for testing on the advice of his doctor, his office said Sunday.

“This is a precautionary step, as the Prime Minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Johnson announced on March 27 that he had tested positive. He said at the time that he had “mild symptoms” of COVID-19, including a fever and “a persistent cough.”

Johnson, 55, has not appeared on TV since his diagnosis, only issuing short video messages from his cellphone.

No. 10 Downing Street says Johnson remains in charge of the government. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who would step in for Johnson if he were unable to fulfill his duties as prime minister, will chair Monday morning’s coronavirus meeting.

Johnson is “still very much in charge of the government,” Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said in an interview aired Monday on the BBC.

“We hope that as a result of these tests [the prime minister] will be able to come back to Downing Street as soon as possible,” Jenrick told the broadcaster. “He’s been working extremely hard leading the government and being constantly updated. That’s going to continue.”

The housing secretary added that the hospital stay was probably “very frustrating” for Johnson, “who wants to be hands [on] running the government from the front.”

The U.K.’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said Sunday that 195,524 people in the U.K. have been tested, with 47,806 testing positive. More than 16,000 have been admitted to hospitals with coronavirus symptoms. Of those who have contracted the virus, at least 4,934 have died.

Johnson has ordered Britons to stay at home to help slow the virus’ spread. He faced criticism for waiting until March 23 to make the announcement — after thousands had failed to heed warnings to practice social distancing.

NPR’s Frank Langfitt and Scott Neuman contributed to this report.

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