British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care with the coronavirus but is “improving,” a senior official said Wednesday, as the UK saw its biggest spike in deaths from the virus to date.
Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said Johnson “has been sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team” at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, three days after he was admitted.
A shaken UK government sought to keep a grip on its response to the outbreak with its leader hospitalized and the number of COVID-19-related deaths approaching the peaks seen in Italy and Spain, the two countries with the greatest number of fatalities.
Britain’s confirmed death toll reached 7,097 on Wednesday, an increase of 938 from 24 hours earlier. Italy recorded 969 deaths on March 27 and Spain 950 deaths on April 2.
Not all the deaths reported each day occurred in the preceding 24 hours, and the British total only includes deaths in hospitals.
Johnson was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and still had a cough and fever 10 days later. He was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday and moved to the ICU on Monday after his condition deteriorated. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for Johnson while he is hospitalized.
Johnson spokesman James Slack said earlier Wednesday that the prime minister continues to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is breathing without any other assistance.
Slack declined to provide further details of Johnson’s treatment, saying Wednesday’s update “contains all of the information which the PM’s medical team considers to be clinically relevant.”