Coronavirus: Boris Johnson is ‘a really strong guy’ and will pull through, says friend

A friend of Boris Johnson who worked with him when he was mayor of London says the prime minister is a “really, really strong guy” and “far fitter than he looks”.

Will Walden, who was Mr Johnson’s director of communications at City Hall, said the prime minister would beat COVID-19.

Mr Johnson is in intensive care in hospital after his symptoms worsened on Monday.

Mr Walden said: “He will whip anybody’s backside on a tennis court, he runs regularly, he doesn’t smoke, he drinks moderately.

“So I think if anyone is in a good position both physically and mentally to fight off the disease then the prime minister is that person.”

Mr Walden said he had been in touch with Mr Johnson a few times in the last few weeks and added: “I had a brief exchange with him last week in which I was more concerned about him being in isolation and what he said back to me was, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to beat it’.

“What he meant by that, which is typical of Boris, is we as a country will come together and beat this disease, rather than thinking about himself in regard to that – and that’s pretty typical of the man.”

Mr Walden told Sky News that Mr Johnson would be fighting to get better, but would be frustrated that he was not able to lead the national battle against COVID-19.

“He is strong, he will be concerned about the wider battle the country faces against this disease but he will also have been frustrated that he is in hospital.

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UK PM Johnson in intensive care, needed oxygen after COVID-19 symptoms worsened

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in intensive care on Tuesday after receiving oxygen support for serious COVID-19 complications while his foreign minister took over the helm of government as the outbreak accelerated.

The upheaval of Johnson’s personal battle with the virus has shaken the government just as the United Kingdom enters what scientists say will be the most deadly phase of the pandemic, which has killed 5,373 people in Britain and 70,000 worldwide.

Johnson, 55, was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital across the River Thames from the House of Commons late on Sunday after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature and a cough, for more than 10 days.

But his condition rapidly deteriorated over the next 24 hours, and he was on Monday moved to an intensive care unit, where the most serious cases are treated, in case he needed to be put on a ventilator. He was still conscious, his office said.

“He’s not on a ventilator, no,” Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC radio on Tuesday. “The prime minister has received some oxygen support and he is kept under, of course, close supervision.”

“The prime minister is in intensive care,” Gove said. “He’s a man of great zest and appetite for life.”

But the absence of Johnson, the first leader of a major power to be hospitalised after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, at such a crucial time raised questions about who was truly in charge of the world’s fifth largest economy.

While Britain has no formal succession plan should a prime minister become incapacitated, Johnson asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, 46, to deputise for him “where necessary,” Downing Street said.

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WHO LEADS?

Raab on Tuesday chaired the government’s COVID-19 emergency response meeting, though ministers refused to say who had ultimate control the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons – a role held by the prime minister.

“There are well developed protocols which are in place,” said Gove, who himself went into self isolation on Tuesday after a family member displayed symptoms.

Before he was rushed to intensive care, Johnson had said that he was in good spirits and Raab had told a news conference that Johnson was still running the government, although Raab also said he had not spoken to him directly since Saturday.

British leaders do not traditionally publicise the results of their medical examinations as some U.S. presidents including Donald Trump have.

Raab, the son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1938, takes the helm at a pivotal time. Government scientists see the death toll rising until at least April 12 and Britain must ultimately decide when to lift the lockdown.

“The government’s business will continue,” said Raab, a staunch Brexit supporter who has served as foreign minister for less than a year.

Johnson’s move to intensive care added to the sense of upheaval that the coronavirus crisis has wrought after its spread caused widespread panic, sowed chaos through financial markets and prompted the virtual shutdown of the global economy.

The United Kingdom is in a state of virtual lockdown, a situation due to be reviewed early next week, and some ministers have suggested it might need to be extended because some people were flouting the strict rules.

The pound dipped in Asian trading on news of Johnson’s intensive care treatment but then rallied in London trading. Against the dollar, sterling traded to a high of $1.2349, up 0.9% on the session.

BORIS

Even before coronavirus, Johnson had had a tumultuous year.

He won the top job in July 2019, renegotiated a Brexit deal with the European Union, fought a snap election in December which he won resoundingly and then led the United Kingdom out of the European Union on Jan 31 – promising to seal a Brexit trade deal by the end of this year.

The government has said it is not planning to seek an extension to that deadline in light of the epidemic.

Johnson has faced criticism for initially approving a much more modest response to the novel coronavirus outbreak than other major European leaders, though he then imposed a lockdown as projections showed half a million people could die.

He tested positive for the virus on March 26.

After 10 days of isolation in an apartment at Downing Street, he was admitted to hospital. He was last seen in a video message posted on Twitter on Friday when he looked weary.

Downing Street said repeatedly on Monday that Johnson remained in charge and was reading documents, but the move to intensive care revealed the gravity of his condition.

James Gill, a doctor and a clinical lecturer at Warwick Medical School, said the news of Johnson’s admission to intensive care was “worrying” but not completely out of line with other people suffering complications.

“So far we have seen a deterioration in line with other cases of COVID-19 infections,” he said. “Admission to ITU is worrying news, (but) this is not all together uncommon with this disease, and may be looked at from a positive that the PM is getting the very best care that the NHS has to offer.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said all Americans were praying for his recovery, and other world leaders sent messages of support.

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Storm Harold warning: Met Office warns of ‘strongest cyclone since 2016’ – Latest path

The Met Office is tacking storm Harold through the South Pacific, which, according to the agency promises to be one of the most “powerful” in years. A tweet from the forecasters revealed it could rival storm Winston, which battered the island in 2016.

The tweet read: “#Harold is moving away from #Vanuatu and is now the strongest cyclone in the South Pacific since Winston in 2016. Now heading towards #Fiji, but is expected to pass just south of the islands by midweek.”

According to the Met Office, Storm Harold is currently moving away from Vanuatu, a country in Indonesia.

There, the powerful cyclone smashed the island nation with 155mph wind speeds.

Harold hit the island of Espiritu Santo on Monday and moved towards the south through the rest of the day.

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Winds strengthened to 167mph, with maximum gusts of 186mph by the time it rounded on the southeastern island of Pentecost.

The speeds mean the storm is approaching a category five system, which the NOAA classes as a “major” hurricane”.

The last major storm to batter the island was cyclone Winston, which made landfall as a tropical disturbance in 2016.

Then, the cyclone commanded gale-force winds and pounded the island with 108mph winds.

Eventually, the storm developed into a category five and smashed Fiji’s Lau archipelago with maximum wind gusts of 190mph.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, Harold could leave lasting power outages and falling debris.

Pictures shared by the Asia Pacific Office of the Red Cross showed devastation on the island, including falling trees and flooding.

Officials expect the storm will weaken over Tuesday, as confirmed by the Met Office.

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They said the storm is now heading towards Fiji but would miss the islands, passing south of the area.

However, the southern island of Viti Levu may experience hurricane-force winds on Wednesday.

The storm previously tore through the Solomon Islands, killing 27 people in the sea nearby the country.

Vanuatu is currently in a state of emergency, due primarily to the coronavirus pandemic.

The nation suspended outbound and incoming flights on March 26, and the last international flight departed on March 21.

While no cases have emerged, experts fear the small nation is not prepared to handle a full-blown epidemic.

The state of emergency prohibits gatherings of more than five people in public, and all shops, bars and restaurants need to close by 7.30pm.

Public transport also shuts down relatively early, with trips finished by 9pm.

Authorities briefly lifted the restrictions while the storm made landfall, allowing people to seek refuge at safe houses and evacuation centres.

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Indonesia grants Jakarta more powers to tackle coronavirus outbreak

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia approved on Tuesday a request by the Jakarta administration to impose further large-scale social restrictions on the capital, the epicentre for novel coronavirus cases in the Southeast Asian country.

President Joko Widodo has focused on combating the spread of the disease through social distancing policies, but has resisted the tough lockdown measures adopted in many countries.

Official data shows the virus has infected 2,491 people in the world’s fourth most populous country and killed 209, though a low level of testing and data showing a spike in funerals in Jakarta indicates the toll could be higher. A large portion of Indonesia’s confirmed cases are in the city region.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto signed a central government order, which was reviewed by Reuters, giving approval for the Jakarta government to impose a range of social restrictions in the city region over the next two weeks, with state agencies helping to implement them.

The restrictions include limiting religious events, defence-related activities, socio-cultural activities, and the closing of schools and workplaces.

Jakarta had already shut schools and enacted some restriction measures after declaring a state of emergency that runs until April 19, but most are voluntary and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has pushed for a tougher response.

Pandu Riono, a public health expert at the University of Indonesia, said with some of the restrictions already in place “this is just a stamp that makes it look official.”

Governor Baswedan and his representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

There has been friction between the central and local governments on social distancing measures, with some regional leaders attempting to lock down their borders to stem the coronavirus spread.

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Hundreds of thousands of Jakarta residents have left in recent weeks for their home villages to find a safe haven, or after losing their jobs, officials said.

There are also growing fears that the annual exodus of tens of millions of people to homes across the archipelago for the Muslim Ramadan holiday would accelerate the outbreak.

Indonesia said last week it would give cash to poor families to persuade them to stay in Jakarta, but the government has rejected calls for a ban on the “mudik”, as the migration is called locally.

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Swiss jobless expected to rise as coronavirus hits companies – govt

ZURICH, April 7 (Reuters) – Switzerland’s jobless figures will rise in the coming months as the strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic could force even successful companies to shut down, a government official said on Tuesday.

“I believe unemployment will clearly increase,” said Boris Zuercher, the head of the labour department at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco).

“The longer this situation lasts, the harder it is to get out. If it continues like this for another three or four months, it will also affect solvent companies.” (Reporting by John Revill and Silke Koltrowitz)

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Boris Johnson children: How many children does PM have? Carrie Symonds drops announcement

Boris Johnson is the leader of the Conservative Party and the current Prime Minister since he was elected by the British public in December. In an unprecedented move, Mr Johnson has spent a night in intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened and he reportedly struggled to breathe. But how many children does the PM have?

The Prime Minister was initially admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday.

He was given oxygen after struggling to breather and then the decision was taken at 7pm on Monday to move him to the intensive care unit.

Downing Street said he was suffering from “persistent” symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough and a high temperature.

The 55-year-old was first diagnosed 12 days ago, but after the recommended seven days self-isolation had to extend this time due to persisting symptoms.

In his absense, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has taken up the helm and will act in his stead. 

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Ms Carrie Symonds revealed her engagement to Mr Johnson and that she is expecting a child with him on Instagram on February 29.

She said: “I wouldn’t normally post this kind of thing on here but I wanted my friends to find out from me…

“Many of you already know but for my friends that still don’t, we got engaged at the end of last year… and we’ve got a baby hatching early summer.”

Ms Symonds also said in her message she feels “incredibly blessed”.

Now Ms Symonds is currently self-isolating after experiencing coronavirus symptoms at her home in South London.

But the Prime Minister already has children from previous relationships. 

USA businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri appeared on Good Morning Britain where she refused to deny she had embarked on an extra-marital affair with the PM.

During their time together, Ms Arcuri claims Mr Johnson told her that he has a fifth child.

Host Piers Morgan asked her whether they had spoken about Mr Johnson’s love child.

When asked about how many children he has, Ms Arcuri said: “I think I have a vague idea. I asked him once.”

She added: “I asked him once if he had as many kids as Ken Livingstone, and he said no.”

Ken Livingstone has repeatedly endeavoured to keep his family life private, but it is known he has five children.

When pressed by the show’s hosts for more detail, Ms Arcuri said: “Well, he had the four, and one” with another woman.

We’ve got a baby hatching early summer

Carrie Symonds

Ms Arcuri said: “Sure, sure, it’s part of what I would say, you know, would be becoming of his character.”

The revelation came after Mr Johnson was left flustered when questioned on BBC Radio 5 Live about how many children he has and whether they had attended state schools.

When asked on BBC Radio 5 and the News Channel if he had any children who went to state school, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t comment about my children.”

However, he added: “Your assertion that none of my children have been to state schools is wrong.”

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The PM then said: “I want all our schools to be superb and I want every kid to have – every young person to have – the same opportunities. I believe absolutely passionately in that.”

During the interview Ms Arcuri said she felt “heartbroken” after she was “cast aside” by the Prime Minister.

She also refused to deny having an affair with Boris Johnson but said they had a “special relationship”.

When asked directly if it was “an affair”, she said: “I’m not going to answer that question, but as you can tell there was a very special relationship there and when it did come out, half the people already assumed the affair and told me to admit.

“The other half just wanted me to deny, deny, deny.”

How many children does the Prime Minister have?

Mr Johnson is believed to be the father of five children.

Four of these offspring are from his second marriage to successful barrister Marina Wheeler from whom he separated in 2018.

The former couple’s eldest child is Lara Lettice, 26, who is a writer, editor and broadcaster.

She is a keen classicist and gained an A in her Latin A Level before she studied at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s alma mater St Andrews University, where she gained a Master of Arts in Latin and Comparative Literature.

Mr Johnson and Ms Wheeler’s second child is Milo Arthur, 24, who was educated at Westminster School where he was said to excel at sports before he studied at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies which he graduated from in 2014.

He is currently a student at Cambridge University and will graduate in 2021.

The third child from the separated couple is Cassie Peaches, 22, who like her father is a writer and was the student editor of their alumni magazine Cholmeleian.

The youngest of Marine Wheeler and Boris Johnson’s brood is Theodore Apollo, 20.

He is also at Cambridge University which his older brother, but it is not known which college he is at or the subject he is studying.

However, it is claimed the four children have a younger half-sister, Stephanie Macintyre, who is the daughter of an affair Mr Johnson undertook with art advisor Helen Macintyre.

At first, he denied paternity and was not named on the birth certificate.

However, his relations were revealed after a 2013 court battle in which he sought an injunction to prevent her existence being reported.

The Court of Appeal said: “The core information in this story, namely that the father had an adulterous affair with the mother, deceiving both his wife and the mother’s partner and that the claimant, born about nine months later, was likely to be the father’s child, was a public interest matter which the electorate was entitled to know when considering his fitness for high public office.”

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Parks will close if social distancing cannot be maintained, UK told

Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said he had called local leaders to warn them to be “very judicious” in locking open spaces. Mr Jenrick was forced to step in after thousands of visitors flocked to green spaces in the warmer weather, despite the coronavirus crackdown. One London authority closed a major park on Sunday – warning residents were flouting ‘social distancing’ rules – but was accused of risking a revolt from people trapped in tiny homes.

But there are concerns that public confidence could be lost if those in power with gardens and ample living space tell those who live in crowded conditions they cannot go to the park or exercise outdoors.

Mr Jenrick agreed he has a “lot of sympathy” with those concerns as he said he had spoken to “a number” of councils who had closed parks over the weekend.

“This is their decision, but I have asked them to be very judicious in taking that step and only to do that where they feel it is impossible to maintain social distancing rules within their parks or open spaces,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I think that is what motivated them over the weekend.”

Downing Street also insisted that it was up to local authorities whether to close individual parks.

Sunny, warmer-than-average conditions are set to continue this week, with a peak of around 24C forecast for Wednesday and Thursday in southern England, the Met Office said.

Mr Jenrick implored people to stay inside, with the potential for more good weather and the Easter weekend approaching being big temptations to breach the lockdown.

He insisted there are no “imminent plans” to impose greater restrictions after warnings that outside exercise could be banned.

“It would be very unfortunate if we had to do so and make it harder for people, particularly people who live in flats in towns and cities, to get the exercise they deserve,” he told BBC Breakfast.

And he suggested that measures could be relaxed before long if the “excess capacity” in NHS intensive care units can be maintained.

“If we can do that then we can look in the weeks to come to begin to very carefully… lift some of those measures,” he said via a video-link that was facing connection issues.

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“But an exit strategy that’s sustainable will also have to be accompanied by much greater testing and tracing than we are able to do today.”

One council to shutter a green space was Lambeth, which closed Brockwell Park in south-east London after saying 3,000 people, many sunbathing or in large groups, had visited on Saturday.

The park reopened on Monday and the council said it was “monitoring” the situation.

Police moved people on in north-west London’s Primrose Hill and rules were breached on the south coast too, but the consensus in Government is that the public are largely obeying the rules.

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Japan to issue record amount of extra bonds worth over 18 trln yen -sources

TOKYO, April 7 (Reuters) – Japan will sell a record amount of additional bonds, worth more than 18 trillion yen ($165 billion), to fund its coronavirus stimulus package, pushing overall market issuance beyond 147 trillion yen, two government sources with direct knowledge told Reuters.

The amount of extra bond issuance in the new fiscal year from April will exceed the previous record of 16.9 trillion yen issued during the 2009 global financial crisis, they said.

The sources were speaking on condition of anonymity because the debt issuance plan has not yet been finalised.

All the maturities, except for 40-year bonds, inflation-linked bonds and liquidity enhancement auctions, are subject to increase, they said.

While 40-year bonds and liquidity enhancement auctions remain unchanged from an initial plan, inflation-linked bonds will be cut by 1.2 trillion yen a year, they added.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to roll out a stimulus package worth 108 trillion yen ($990 billion), or a fifth the size of the economy, vowing to take “all steps” to combat deepening fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. ($1=108.8000 yen) (Reporting by Takaya Yamaguchi; Writing by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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Spain’s coronavirus figures in decline as country hopes infections are slowing

The country’s infection figures have started to fall, with an increase of 637 deaths on Monday that brings the total death toll up to 13,055. The number of cases has been slowing, but the country has the most recorded cases in Europe – 135,000.

In Italy, another heavily impacted country the number of new cases fell by 1,031 to 1,941 on Monday, but the deaths went up to 636 in a day, more than 100 higher than the previous day.

On Monday, Austria’s chancellor revealed plans to start reducing the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to data published by Johns Hopkins University, there have been almost 1.3 million cases and 70,800 deaths recorded around the world since the start of the crisis in China in December.

Spain is the second country in the world with he most cases after the United States.

The nation also has the second-highest number of deaths behind Italy.

Spain’s Monday’s death toll of 637 is the lowest recorded so far in almost two weeks, raising hopes that the outbreak might be slowing.

María José Sierra, deputy head of Spain’s health emergency committee, said the pandemic’s growth rate seemed to be slowing down “in almost every region” of the country.

The Spanish government intends to start testing more people, including those with no symptoms.

“It is important to know who is contaminated to be able to gradually lift Spanish citizens’ lockdown,” Foreign Minister Arancha González said in a TV interview.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at the weekend that some measures like only allowing essential workers to work could be lifted after Easter.

Businesses, including shops and restaurants, have been shuttered since March 14.

In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz revealed plans to ease some of the restrictions in the country after a total of 220 deaths were recorded.

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According to the French finance minister the economic contraction this year would most likely be the worst for the country since World War Two.

In France, figures showed 883 new deaths in hospitals and nursing homes, with a total death toll of 8,911 since March 1.

France’s daily toll was 315 higher than the previous day.

Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the crisis was the biggest challenge the European Union had ever come across.

She added that Germany was willing to help the bloc economically.

In the UK, prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital ICU after his symptoms worsened.

According to a spokesman the Prime Minister was in “good spirits” despite the medical emergency.

Mr Johnson is “under observation” after being hospitalised on Sunday as a precautionary measure.

On Monday 439 more people had died of Covid-19-related complications.

The latest figures brings the total death toll in the country up to 5,373.

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Aurora police officer fired after drunk driving crash

An Aurora police officer was fired after he allegedly drove his car into a tree while intoxicated and driving 55 mph in a residential neighborhood in Colorado Springs.

Interim police Chief Vanessa Wilson announced Monday that she fired Officer Jaired Dozier, who graduated from the police academy in August. As a new employee, he was still on probation and therefore can’t appeal his termination, Wilson said in a news release.

“Officer Dozier’s actions do not reflect the professionalism of those who wear this uniform and someone who should represent this organization,” Wilson said in the news release. “Since taking over as Aurora’s Interim Police Chief, I promised that I would not stand for or allow behavior like this in our agency.”

Dozier, 23, crashed his car on March 17 in a Colorado Springs neighborhood while off-duty. His car struck another vehicle parked on the side of the road, a mailbox, a school zone sign and a fence before crashing head-on into the tree and stopping, according to Colorado Springs police reports obtained by The Denver Post through a records request.

Officers estimated Dozier was traveling about 55 mph when he crashed, far above the 25 mph speed limit, the reports show. The car was moving so quickly that when it struck the tree, one of its headlights flew off and embedded in the wall of a nearby home, the reports state. The impact also snapped the tree.

Dozier was unstable on his feet at the scene, slurred his speech and smelled of alcohol, officers wrote in their reports. Dozier repeatedly told the responding officers that he worked for the Aurora Police Department.

“Mr. Dozier told me he was a police officer and I told him I was aware of that information and that it had no bearing on the investigation,” Colorado Springs Officer William Powers wrote in his report.

Dozier was transported from the scene to a hospital due to minor injuries from the crash.

“While Mr. Dozier was being evaluated I heard the doctor inquire as to the speed Mr. Dozier was driving and he said something to the effect of, ‘It’s okay, I know how to drive fast. I am a cop,’” Powers wrote in his report.

Dozier later told Powers that he drank two shots and two beers before driving, according to the reports.

Dozier faces charges of driving under the influence and careless driving in El Paso County court.

His arrest is the third time an Aurora police officer has been caught drunk driving in the past year. Officer Nate Meier passed out drunk in his department car while working on March 29, 2019. Meier was not fired by the previous police chief and did not face a criminal investigation.

Another officer, Annette Brook, was arrested on June 17 after crashing her car while driving drunk. She pleaded guilty in January to charges of driving under the influence and prohibited use of a weapon while drunk and was sentenced to home detention. Brook has since retired.

“Our officers continue to be out in our community, every single day, during this unprecedented time,” Wilson said in her statement Monday. “Their hard work and dedication should not be overshadowed with this one officer’s decisions he made while off-duty.”

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