Donald Trump wishes Boris Johnson a ‘speedy recovery’ after PM's coronavirus diagnosis
Boris Johnson and Donald Trump
Donald Trump has wished Boris Johnson a "speedy recovery" after the Prime Minister contracted coronavirus.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson and the US President had vowed to work together to "defeat the coronavirus pandemic" in a call on Friday night.
And President Trump later claimed the UK had asked him for help in securing ventilators to treat the sick.
Mr Johnson revealed on Friday morning that he was self-isolating in Number 10 after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
He said: "Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus."
The Prime Minister added: "I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also been diagnosed with the virus, while the Government's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is self-isolation after developing symptoms.
Downing Street released a statement confirming that Mr Johnson had spoken to President Trump.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: "The President wished the Prime Minister a speedy recovery from coronavirus.
"They agreed to work together closely, along with the G7, the G20, and other international partners, to defeat the coronavirus pandemic."
Speaking at a White House press briefing, President Trump said the Prime Minister had opened the call with a plea for equipment to help treat patients struck down with the coronavirus, claiming "the first thing he said to me is: 'We need ventilators'".
The US commander-in-chief. whose own country has now surpassed China in having the most cases of coronavirus, told reporters: "Boris Johnson was asking for ventilators today. As you know, Boris, unfortunately he's tested positive, and it's a terrible thing. But he's going to be great, I'm sure he's going to be totally great.
"But they want ventilators. Italy wants ventilators. Spain wants ventilators. Germany wants ventilators. They're all calling for ventilators. Well we're going to make a lot of ventilators and we'll take care of our needs, but we're also going to help other countries."
Britain has been pushing British manufacturers to ramp up production of ventilators, which are crucial in treating those who develop severe symptoms of the illness.
There are currently 8,000 ventilators available to NHS patients, according to the latest figures, with Downing Street promising that another 8,000 will become avalabine in the "next few weeks".
Companies including Rolls Royce, BAE systems, Siemens and McLaren have so far been drafted in to try and boost production of ventilator components, which are now in high demand around the world.
The call between the two leaders came as the Prime Minister faced criticism from some quarters as the top three individuals leading the Government's coronavirus response were forced into self-isolation.
Dr John Ashton, a former regional director of Public Health England, told The Guardian: “The Government has been too slow to act on this, and they’ve been slow as individuals. I was surprised to see Prime Minister's Questions going ahead this week – it was clearly unnecessary.
“It reinforces the view that lockdown measures taken earlier this week should have been taken sooner, and raises questions about the ability of people in power, including the Prime Minister, to discipline themselves. They should all have been more careful.”
But Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who chaired the Government's daily press conference on Friday in the Prime Minister's absence, said the diagnosis showed that the “virus does not discriminate", adding: "We are all at risk".
He added: "The fact that the virus is no respecter of individuals, whoever they are, is one of the reasons why we do need to have strict social distancing measures so that we can reduce the rate of infection and reduce the pressure on the NHS."
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