Newspaper headlines: PM's intensive care move dominates front pages

Metro 7 April 2020

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to intensive care as his coronavirus symptoms worsened leads all of Tuesday’s front pages. The Metro says the PM last night remained “conscious at this time” and that he was moved as a precaution in case he needed to be put on a ventilator to support his breathing. It quotes London Mayor Sadiq Khan as saying he was “praying for the prime minister’s swift recovery”.

The Times 6 April 2020

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The Times reports it has been told by a doctor at the London hospital where Mr Johnson is being treated that the PM needed four litres of oxygen – below the usual threshold for intensive care. The paper reports one minister as saying the announcement of the PM’s worsening condition was a “truly shocking” moment.

Daily Telegraph 7 April 2020

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The PM’s condition worsened at around 19:00 BST, the Daily Telegraph reports. It says the decision to move Mr Johnson to intensive care would allow him closer access to a ventilator should he require one.

The Sun 6 April 2020

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The Sun carries comments from one of Mr Johnson’s Conservative colleagues, Iain Duncan Smith, who says he is “deeply saddened it should come to this”. “Lets hope and pray. This doesn’t mean that he isn’t going to pull through,” the paper reports Mr Duncan Smith saying.

Daily Mirror 7 April 2020

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Mr Johnson faces what the Daily Mirror describes as a “fight for life”. The paper says Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been “put in control” of the government.

i paper 7 April 2020

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The i paper reports that news of the PM’s worsening condition came after Mr Raab said he had not spoken with the PM for 48 hours.

Daily Mail 7 April 2020

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“Now stricken Boris taken to intensive care,” reads the Daily Mail front page. It describes “shock” at No 10’s announcement and describes Mr Raab as a “crisis stand-in”.

Daily Star 7 April 2020

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The Daily Star carries news of Mr Johnson’s move to intensive care, but also notes the death of former James Bond actress Honor Blackman at the age of 94.

FT 7 April 2020

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The FT reports how Mr Raab “later dispensed with the notion that Mr Johnson was still in charge” by saying ministers were now making sure the PM delivered his plan to defeat coronavirus.

The main story across all of the papers is Boris Johnson’s move to intensive care late on Monday evening.

In the words of the Daily Mail, the drastic step was taken because the stricken prime minister was struggling to breathe.

According to the Daily Mirror, there are concerns that he could have pneumonia.

The Times says the deterioration in Mr Johnson’s condition was rapid. It quotes sources at St Thomas’s Hospital near Westminster who say he needed four litres of oxygen – below the normal threshold in intensive care of 15 litres.

The prime minister, it adds, has not been intubated, where a tube is inserted into the windpipe before ventilation.


The Times adds Mr Johnson is thought to be fairly fit and well – he is a regular tennis player and, at No 10, he follows online video workouts that mix yoga, Pilates and aerobics.

But the paper says he has had to give up jogging because of problems with his knees and he has struggled with his weight, reaching 16-and-a-half stone in December 2018 which would have put him in the obese category.

The Daily Telegraph says Carrie Symonds, Mr Johnson’s partner, who is pregnant, is thought to have been unable to visit him since he was admitted to hospital. The Times says she is thought to be staying in Camberwell, south London with their dog, Dilyn.

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The Guardian says a bed was being prepared for Mr Johnson at St Thomas’s hospital as early as last Thursday, , suggesting concerns having been mounting for some days. Quoting a source, the paper says he spent Sunday night in an empty wing normally used for elective procedures.

The Guardian has also been told of “frustration” among ministers over the prime minister remaining in charge for so long, rather than resting, even after he had received oxygen treatment.

The i paper agrees that his colleagues had urged him to hand over the reins and try to rest.

The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman understands why Mr Johnson wanted to continue to lead the government, even from his bed. This is a national crisis, she writes, where the country needs a recognisable and confident figure leading.

‘Uncompromising’ karate black belt

HuffPost UK offers a guide to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the PM “where necessary”. Describing the 46-year-old karate black belt as an uncompromising figure who has rarely strayed from his dedication to leaving the EU.

The son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis, Mr Raab has spent much of the past month trying to get Britons repatriated from far-flung corners of the globe.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times says big decisions loom for the government, as the outbreak reaches its peak and ministers start to grapple with how and when to start relaxing the lockdown. The paper’s leader column argues that governments which have rightly decided to close down their economies have only “a very few months” before the costs and social unrest become “unbearable”.

Make these lockdowns work, it says, “all the blundering of recent months has to end”.

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According to the Daily Telegraph, ministers are scrambling to formulate a new exit strategy for the lockdown, following warnings from experts that mass testing cannot be introduced for at least a month.

More than three million antibody tests – which show if someone has already had Covid-19 – were ordered two weeks ago and hailed as “game-changing” by the prime minister. But the government’s scientific adviser says they have so far failed.

Matt’s cartoon has a park bench with a plaque dedicated to “Mark and Anne who were fined for sitting here during lockdown, April 2020.”

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