Government and policy update from the New Statesman

7 April 2020 (Last Updated April 7th, 2020 08:57)

Boris Johnson was transferred to intensive care yesterday evening as his coronavirus symptoms deteriorated. The move came less than 24 hours after the Prime Minister was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London for testing, in what his office described as a precautionary measure.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who yesterday afternoon said that Johnson was still running the government, is now deputising for the Prime Minister as part of his role as First Secretary of State, while Johnson recovers. He told the BBC that “the focus of the government would continue to be on [ensuring] that, at the Prime Minister’s direction, all the plans for making sure we can defeat coronavirus and pull the country through this challenge will be taken forward”.

World leaders and former prime ministers were among those to wish Johnson a speedy recovery last night. During his daily briefing, US President Donald Trump said: “[Johnson’s] been a really good friend. He’s been really something very special: strong resolute; doesn’t quit; doesn’t give up.” Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer said “all the country’s thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time”.

The pound dropped against the dollar and the euro by 0.3 and 0.1 per cent respectively in the period following Downing Street’s announcement.

China: The National Health Commission reported no new coronavirus deaths yesterday for the first time since the outbreak began, prompting further speculation about the accuracy of the Chinese government's official figures. Just over 3,300 people are reported to have died of the disease in the country, which has reported 81,740 confirmed cases.

Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced plans to declare a month-long state of emergency today after the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 rose in several regions. Abe is planning to roll out a stimulus package worth $1tn to protect the Japanese economy.

US: The nationwide death toll has now exceeded 10,000 in the United States, but there are signs in New York and New Jersey – two of the worst hit regions – that the outbreak may be starting to plateau, with the number of hospitalisations declining.

Spain: The number of reported deaths from Covid-19 dropped for the fourth consecutive day in Spain, one of the European nations worst affected by the pandemic, as social distancing measures began to take effect.

New Zealand: Health Minister Dr David Clark was demoted for flouting lockdown rules.

Read more on the New Statesman:

James Meadway on why the coronavirus crisis will force the UK to adopt a transformed economic model

David Ottewell on what winning looks like when the enemy is a virus

Emily Tamkin on why the US must stop using military language to discuss coronavirus