UK’s Boris Johnson ‘improving’ as he fights coronavirus in intensive care

A cyclist passes police officers on duty outside St Thomas' Hospital in central London on April 7, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 09 April 2020

UK’s Boris Johnson ‘improving’ as he fights coronavirus in intensive care

  • Rishi Sunak says Johnson has been sitting up in bed and engaging with his doctors
  • Britain's confirmed death toll reached 7,097 on Wednesday

LONDON: Britain’s Treasury chief says Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s condition is improving in the intensive care unit of a London hospital.
Rishi Sunak says Johnson has been sitting up in bed and engaging with his doctors at St. Thomas’ Hospital.
Johnson was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, 10 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was transferred to the ICU on Monday when his condition deteriorated.
Johnson’s spokesman said earlier Wednesday that the prime minister was receiving “standard oxygen treatment” and is breathing without any other assistance.
Johnson, 55, is the first world leader confirmed to have the new coronavirus.
Britain’s confirmed death toll reached 7,097 on Wednesday, an increase of 938 from 24 hours earlier. Italy recorded 969 deaths on March 27 and Spain 950 deaths on April 2.
Not all the deaths reported each day occurred in the preceding 24 hours, and the British total only includes deaths in hospitals.
The number of coronavirus infections and hospital admissions in Britain is beginning to show signs of flattening, Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service, said on Wednesday.
“We are starting to see a plateauing - the first signs of a plateauing of infections and hospitalisations,” Powis told reporters.
“We are beginning to see the benefits I believe but the really critical thing is that we have to continue following instructions - we have to continue following social distancing, because if we don’t the virus will start to spread again.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s economy and people’s livelihoods will take a hit due to the coronavirus outbreak which has forced a lockdown of much of society, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday, adding that the government had taken the right steps to get through the crisis.
“This will have a significant impact on our economy, and not in an abstract way. It will have an impact on people’s jobs and their livelihoods,” Sunak said at a news conference.
“I belive we’re doing the right things,” he added. “I can’t stand here and say there isn’t going to be hardship ahead, there is ... but I’m confident we will get through it.”
Sunak also announced on Wednesday an extra 750 million pounds ($930 million) of funding for frontline charities so they can continue their work during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Our charities are playing a crucial role in the national fight against coronavirus, supporting those who are most in need,” Sunak said in a statement.
“It’s right we do everything we can to help the sector during this difficult time, which is why we have announced this unprecedented 750 million-pound package of extra funding.”
The finance ministry cited hospices and charities supporting domestic abuse victims as examples of the kinds of charities that will benefit from the new money.
The funds include 360 million pounds to be directly allocated by the government to charities that provide key services and support vulnerable people.
Another 370 million will be directed towards smaller charities operating in local communities.
The government will also match whatever the public donates in a BBC charity appeal on April 23, the finance ministry said.


Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

Updated 29 min 7 sec ago

Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal

BERLIN: Germany said Friday that a new broader Iran nuclear accord must be reached to also rein in Tehran’s ballistic missile program, warning that the 2015 deal was no longer enough.
“A form of ‘nuclear agreement plus’ is needed, which also lies in our interest,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told Spiegel magazine in an interview.
“We have clear expectations for Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic rocket program which threatens the whole region. Iran must also play another role in the region.”
“We need this accord because we distrust Iran,” he added.
The 2015 nuclear deal — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
The European Union and the United States were key signatories in the deal but US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and has reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
President-elect Joe Biden has signalled that Washington could rejoin the deal as a starting point for follow-on negotiations if Iran returned to compliance.
But Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal, saying on Thursday: “We will not renegotiate a deal which we negotiated.”
He added that Western powers should look to their own behavior before criticizing Iran.
He also complained at what he characterised as a lack of European outrage at the assassination of one of Iran’s leading nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside Tehran last week — an attack Tehran has blamed on Israel.
Decades old US-Iranian tensions dramatically escalated after Trump walked out of the deal.
In recent months, alarm has also grown over Iran’s regional activities through proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, which the West says destabilizes the region.