Boris Johnson was “stable overnight and remains in good spirits”, Downing Street said at midday on Tuesday, adding that while the prime minister remained in intensive care and had received oxygen treatment for coronavirus, he was not on a ventilator.
“He has not required mechanical ventilation,” said Mr Johnson’s spokesman. “Non-intrusive respiratory support has not been required.” Downing Street also said it was “not the case” that the prime minister had pneumonia.
But further details of Mr Johnson’s condition were not revealed. His spokesman said the prime minister had not spoken to Dominic Raab, his designated deputy, on Tuesday.
Mr Raab, foreign secretary and first secretary of state, is standing in for Mr Johnson “as necessary” — an order issued by the prime minister before he entered intensive care on Monday night.
Downing Street said that under the official cabinet pecking order, if Mr Raab became incapacitated then Rishi Sunak, chancellor, would take charge. Priti Patel, home secretary, and Michael Gove, Cabinet Office minister, are next in line.
Mr Raab would not have the power to hire or fire ministers, Number 10 said, but he would chair the National Security Council in Mr Johnson’s absence and he would have the authority to counter a military threat.
Number 10 rejected suggestions that Mr Johnson had been given special treatment by being placed in intensive care as a precaution in case he would need a ventilator.
“There is significant spare capacity available in intensive care units in London and across the country,” said Mr Johnson’s spokesman.
In another sign of the crisis hitting the government, Mr Gove became the latest politician to self-isolate after a family member showed symptoms.
Mr Gove, who is co-ordinating action on the ground to fight the virus and has hosted a number of Downing Street press conferences, said he did not have symptoms and was continuing to working at home.
Big decisions loom for the government as the virus reaches what is expected to be its peak in Britain and hospitals continue to feel acute pressure. Government ministers are grappling with how and when they can start relaxing the lockdown, although they insist that their priority for now is driving down the number of infections and deaths from the virus.
Donald Trump was among the many foreign leaders who sent good wishes to Mr Johnson. The US president described his “very good friend” as “very special, strong, resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up”.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, French president Emmanuel Macron, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi all wished Mr Johnson a speedy recovery.