The communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said on Monday that Johnson “remains in charge” of the British government from hospital, where he was taken at around 8 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) Sunday night, 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
“I know for him personally it will be very frustrating that he’s had to go to the hospital to have these tests, and he’ll want to be back in Number 10 (Downing Street ) leading from the front, which is his way,” Jenrick told the BBC’s Today program on Monday morning.
“But he remains in charge of the government and he will be updated regularly in the hospital, as he has been while he was self-isolating.”
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, the most senior Cabinet minister after Johnson, will chair the regular morning coronavirus planning meeting for the government, Jenrick said.
Downing Street has previously said Raab would stand in if the Prime Minister were unable to lead the country. If Raab also became ill, the Prime Minister has the power to delegate responsibility to any of his ministers, according to PA Media.
Jenrick added: “This wasn’t an emergency admission, it was a planned admission, in order to have some routine tests. Those tests are underway and he’ll stay in hospital as long as he needs to do that. But I’ve heard that he’s doing well, and I very much look forward to him being back in Number 10 as soon as possible.”
When asked if the Prime Minister would spend more nights in the hospital, Jenrick said, “He’ll obviously take the advice from the doctors and nurses in the hospital who are doing those tests. Throughout this, he’s taken the advice and followed the guidelines.”
US President Donald Trump expressed sympathy, calling Johnson “a strong man and a strong person.” In a news conference Sunday night, President Trump said: “I want to express our nation’s well wishes to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he wages his own personal fight with the virus.”
“All Americans are praying for him. He’s a friend of mine, he’s a great gentleman and a great leader.”
Downing Street on Sunday insisted Johnson’s hospital admission was a “precautionary step” taken because had “persistent symptoms ” ten days after testing positive for coronavirus.
Johnson, 55, announced that he had tested positive for the virus on March 27, describing a cough and a fever in a video posted to Twitter. In an update on Friday, Johnson said that he continued to experience a temperature.
His pregnant partner, Carrie Symonds, has also experienced Covid-19 symptoms, and said over the weekend that she is “on the mend.”
Johnson’s secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock, also said on March 27 he had the virus, and the UK’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, announced that he would begin self-isolation after displaying symptoms.
The UK had faced criticism for its slow response to the coronavirus, with Johnson still shaking hands of patients with the virus in hospital just a few weeks ago.