Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spent the night in hospital after he was admitted for tests as his coronavirus symptoms persist.
He will stay for “as long as needed” in the London NHS hospital where he was taken as a “precautionary step” on the advice of his doctor – rather than as an emergency.
The news came just an hour after 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”.
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.
Mr Johnson, 55, tested positive for the virus 10 days ago, and has been in self-isolation inside his Downing Street flat since.
A Number 10 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.”
US President Donald Trump was among the well-wishers, starting Sunday night’s White House press briefing by saying Mr Johnson was “a great friend of mine” and adding: “I’m sure he is going to be fine, he’s a strong man, a strong person.”
In a rare televised address to the nation, the Queen personally thanked frontline NHS staff, care workers and others for “selflessly” carrying out their essential roles which had brought “us closer to a return to more normal times”.
She thanked others for staying at homes, separated from friends and family, and echoed the words of Forces’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynne’s Second World War anthem, when she said “we will meet again”.
It came as:
– Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, resigned following criticism for visiting her second home and not adhering to social distancing advice.
– The Department of Health said the number of reported coronavirus-related hospital deaths had risen by 621 to 4,934 as of 5pm on Saturday, up from 4,313 the day before.
– Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow confirmed Lynsay Coventry, 54, who died on Thursday, was the first serving midwife to die after testing positive for the virus.
– Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned outdoor exercise could be banned if people continued to flout the social distancing rules.
Mr Johnson remains “in charge of the Government” and in contact with ministerial colleagues and officials despite his hospital admission, a spokesman said.
But de facto deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, is expected to chair the daily Covid-19 meeting on Monday morning in Mr Johnson’s place.
His persistent symptoms are understood to include a high temperature, and it was considered sensible for doctors to see the PM in person.
Mr Johnson’s pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds said on Saturday that 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 the couple’s dog Dilyn.
The Prime Minister revealed on March 27 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.
Mr Johnson has not been seen publicly since, but spoke to new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Saturday afternoon.
Sir Keir wished the PM a “speedy recovery” after the announcement.