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Queen’s Address Overshadowed as British Prime Minister Hospitalized

Police officers and building workers are seen outside St Thomas' Hospital in London after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted with persistent coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, London, April 6, 2020.
Police officers and building workers are seen outside St Thomas' Hospital in London after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted with persistent coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, London, April 6, 2020.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained in a central London hospital Monday, having been admitted there on the advice of doctors Sunday. Johnson was diagnosed with the coronavirus 10 days ago.

The 55-year-old was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in central London at around 8 p.m. local time Sunday. He did not require an ambulance. Government officials say the prime minister was hospitalized on precautionary grounds for further tests as his symptoms had not improved.

Johnson had previously posted several video messages while under self-isolation in his residence at 10 Downing Street, reassuring the public that his symptoms were mild and urging Britons to adhere to the nationwide lockdown.

“I am absolutely confident that we will beat it and we will beat it together, and we will do it by staying at home,” Johnson said in a message posted last week. Observers say it’s clear he is quite unwell and has been suffering from a fever for several days.

"There are instances where people who are otherwise fit and healthy, and who are not above the 70-year-old sort of age qualification for isolating, where they struggle a bit. And certain people do that. We don't understand why,” noted Dr. Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at Britain’s University of Reading.

Boris Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, is also showing symptoms of COVID-19. She wrote on Twitter that she has not been tested and is self-isolating at her London home.

Johnson remains in contact with government ministers via video link.

“He'll continue to be kept informed as to what's happening and to be in charge of the government,” Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said Monday. If Johnson becomes too ill to lead the government, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would take over the reins of power.

U.S. President Donald Trump wished Johnson a speedy recovery Sunday.

“I want to express our nation's well wishes to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he wages his own personal fight with the virus,” Trump said at the beginning of a White House press conference Sunday. “All Americans are praying for him. He's a friend of mine, is a great gentleman and a great leader. And he's, as you know, he was brought to the hospital today. But I'm hopeful and sure that he's going to be fine. He's strong man, a strong person.”

There are concerns however that Johnson may struggle to lead Britain’s response, with indications that the country is following a similar trajectory as the worst-hit European nations, Italy and Spain. As of Monday, Britain had recorded 4,934 deaths from the coronavirus with almost 50,000 infections.

With the nation in crisis, Queen Elizabeth II — Britain’s official head of state — made a rare televised address Sunday night from Windsor Castle outside London, where she is staying as the COVID-19 outbreak grips the capital. The monarch invoked Britain’s struggles through World War II.

“I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all,” Queen Elizabeth said.

The Queen went on to recall her first broadcast made in 1940. “... helped by my sister. We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety.”

“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

The Queen’s son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, was diagnosed with the coronavirus two weeks ago. He has ended his period of self-isolation after making a full recovery.

The monarch’s stirring words were well-received by a weary nation, fearful of the health and economic challenges that lie ahead.