Dominic Raab to lead daily Covid-19 meeting in Boris' absence as British PM ‘very likely’ to need ventilator

Dominic Raab to lead daily Covid-19 meeting in Boris' absence as British PM ‘very likely’ to need ventilator

When Cabinet ministers dial in for their daily emergency coronavirus conference call on Tuesday morning, there will be a different face at the helm.

With Downing Street confirming that the British Prime Minister has been transferred to intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened on Monday afternoon, Boris Johnson has put Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in charge of running the Government “where necessary”.

In his role of First Secretary of State, Mr Raab has taken up the role of deputising for the ill prime minister.

His first job on Tuesday will be to chair the emergency daily Covid-19 Government meeting which sees senior Cabinet ministers and the UK’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, discuss the direction for the day.

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

The former Brexit secretary is also expected, according to the Institute for Government, to be handed Mr Johnson’s Red Box of daily briefing papers as he looks to continue the plan of action set by the PM for dealing with coronavirus.

Mr Raab may choose to face journalist questions at the afternoon press conference at Number 10 as well, although Downing Street stressed that the minister behind the podium is chosen based on the policy work being pushed by the Government on that given day.

With it unknown how long Mr Johnson will be in intensive care for, questions remain about whether the 46-year-old would stand in for his boss on the weekly call between the PM and the Queen.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is “extremely sick” – with many coronavirus patients who need intensive care requiring invasive ventilation, an expert has said.

Boris Johnson was moved to the critical unit at St Thomas’ Hospital on Monday evening as part of his ongoing treatment for Covid-19.

He was understood to be conscious when he was moved to intensive care at about 7pm, as a precaution should he require ventilation to aid his recovery.

Boris Johnson had been chairing Covid-19 Meetings in 10 Downing Street from No 11 Downing Street, after self isolating (Andrew Parsons/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street)
Boris Johnson had been chairing Covid-19 Meetings in 10 Downing Street from No 11 Downing Street, after self isolating (Andrew Parsons/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street)

Derek Hill, professor of medical imaging at University College London (UCL), said the PM could be given a breathing aid known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and full ventilation.

CPAP uses pressure to send a blend of air and oxygen into the mouth at a steady rate, thereby boosting the amount of oxygen that enters the lungs.

But Prof Hill said many Covid-19 patients eventually “progress to invasive ventilation”.

Many world leaders, including Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau, as well as celebrities have wished the British Prime Minister well with JK Rowling and Gary Lineker the latest to send messages of support to Boris Johnson.

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