Boris Johnson is a “fighter” and will “pull through” his coronavirus ordeal, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said in a personal tribute to the Prime Minister.
Mr Raab, who is leading the government while Mr Johnson receives treatment in intensive care, said the Prime Minister was “not just our boss… he is also a colleague and he is also our friend”.
The Foreign Secretary insisted ministers had been issued “clear instructions” for how to take forward the UK’s response to the crisis, and would reach decisions collectively while the Prime Minister remains in hospital.
But Mr Raab signalled that a planned review of lockdown measures due to take place next week, three weeks after restrictions were introduced, would not happen until the UK had passed the peak of the outbreak, and sufficient data had been collected to inform the next steps.
There was optimism from the UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, with Professor Sir Patrick Vallance saying the number of new cases of coronavirus across the UK was not accelerating, indicating that the lockdown may already be flattening the curve of the outbreak.
It comes as Downing Street described the Prime Minister’s condition as stable, with Mr Johnson conscious and in “good spirits”.
He is receiving “standard oxygen treatment” but has not required mechanical ventilation - a key factor in determining the seriousness of his illness, with the chances of survival much higher for patients who are not put on a ventilator within 24 hours of entering intensive care.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus press briefing from Downing Street, the Foreign Secretary gave an update on Mr Johnson's condition and said: "He is not just the Prime Minister. For all of us in Cabinet, he is not just our boss.
"He is also a colleague and he is also our friend. So all our thoughts and prayers are with the Prime Minister at this time, with Carrie [Symonds, Mr Johnson’s fiancée] and his whole family.
"And I'm confident he will pull through because if there is one thing that I know about this Prime Minister is he is a fighter and he will be back leading us through this crisis in short order."
Mr Raab added: "He's receiving the very best care from the excellent medical team at St Thomas's Hospital.
"He remained stable overnight.
"He's receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance, he's not required any mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.
"He remains in good spirits and in keeping with usual clinical practice his progress continues to be monitored closely in critical care."
He said he had "total confidence" in the arrangements the Prime Minister had put in place to allow the Foreign Secretary to deputise for him.
The Cabinet has "very clear instructions" from the Prime Minister whilst he remains in hospital, Mr Raab added.
"Well first of all, decision making by Government is made by collective Cabinet responsibilities, so that is the same as before.
"But we've got very clear directions, very clear instructions from the Prime Minister, and we're focused with total unity and total resolve on implementing them so that when he's back, I hope in very short order, we will have made the progress that he would expect and that the country would expect."