On April 5 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized and later moved into intensive care after showing severe symptoms of the coronavirus infection. While he’s not on a ventilator, Johnson has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to stand in for him while he is sick. With Mr Johnson’s prognosis so uncertain, Raab is expected to take on additional duties soon, which speaks to the seriousness of the case.
With more than 55,000 cases of COVID-19 recorded in the UK, Johnson’s medical crisis is not just his own, but conveys a message to the whole of Britain: all of us are vulnerable to the virus, no matter our health condition, age or social position.
Chronology of Events
Boris Johnson’s political career has often been controversial, including in the last few months, when he and his government received international criticism for Britain’s slow and flippant response to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 3, he visited a hospital with a several admitted coronavirus patients and bragged about shaking hands with everyone. Furthermore, he was slow to recognise the risks and even took a mid-February holiday with his pregnant fiancée.
When the health crisis in the UK became evident, he remained dismissive and contradictory, advocating for the controversial herd immunity policy that would kill thousands of people in the hope that the rest of the population would become immune more quickly.
However, when his own health minister started recommending self-isolation and social distancing, Johnson back peddled and started to introduce measures to contain the crisis. Initially, he asked the most vulnerable groups to refrain from going on cruises or that schools cancel their international class trips. Eventually, he asked people to stay at home (although he did not order it yet) and closed schools to all students except those with certain special needs and the children of key workers.
Quarantine in the UK
Serious quarantine measures were not imposed in the UK until March 20th, only 7 days before Johnson himself tested positive for the disease. Today, people can only go out of their homes in the following cases:
- To exercise in open spaces near home (alone or with members of their household)
- To shop for supplies (for food, medicines, or other basic items)
- To provide care to a vulnerable person
- To go to work when one cannot otherwise work from home.
Fortunately, people seem to be heeding the advice to stay home, helping to temper the pressure being put on the National Health Service. Consequently, the number of new positive cases seem to be decreasing and hospital admissions are not rising as fast as feared by experts.
On April 5th, 10 days after Johnson’s positive diagnosis, he was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure after displaying persistent symptoms. On April 6th, he was moved to the ICU. Today, he’s breathing without aid, remains in good spirits and hopes for a prompt recovery.
The fact Johnson has been hospitalised proves that COVID-19 can be very serious or even deadly to the young and healthy. No matter who we are, old or young, rich or poor, this disease can make anyone ill, so it’s crucial to stay home, keep our distance and protect ourselves and the ones we love.
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