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.

India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

Updated 31 min 32 sec ago

India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

  • Development follows US President’s mediation in the dispute
  • Stand-off began in the first week of May when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake

NEW DELHI: After weeks of a border stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, New Delhi on Thursday announced it would resolve the matter diplomatically.

“India is engaged with China to peacefully resolve the matter. At the same time we remain firm in our resolve to ensuring India’s sovereignty and national security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The development follows US President Donald Trump’s mediation in the dispute. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Trump said, “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute.”

The stand-off began when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake in the first week of May. According to Indian reports, Chinese troops set up dozens of tents on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A few days later, a Chinese patrol was stopped by Indian guards near the Nathula Pass in the Indian state of Sikkim. A troop build-up in the Ladakh and Sikkim areas followed the incidents. Reports suggested that 10,000 Chinese soldiers were sent to the border.

While New Delhi was still blaming China last week for “hindering” Indian patrols at the border, its Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that “the two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels.”

Foreign policy experts say that in the absence of any concrete information it is difficult to comment on whether any resolution is actually taking place.

“The whole region of Ladakh is undefined, there is no agreed LAC, in some areas they respect each other’s position, and in some areas they don’t, which is the crux of the problem,” Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli, of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told Arab News.

“Geopolitical interests of both countries are at the center of the conflict,” Kondapalli said, “For India Ladakh is linked to its sovereignty. India has so many ongoing projects in that area. For China its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes not far away from the region and connect to the Gwadar port in Pakistan. Besides, once American troops leave Afghanistan and a new regime takes over Kabul this might have its implications in the region.”

Manoj Kewalramani, of the Bangalore-based think tank The Takshashila Institution, said that from a geopolitical perspective both sides need stability at this time and the current situation on the border is not helping either of them.

“Beijing is facing challenges on many fronts, an economic slowdown, tensions with the US, international anger amid the pandemic, protests in Hong Kong, etc.,” he said. “Likewise, New Delhi’s interests lie in managing the COVID-19 outbreak at home and focusing on reviving the economy.”