UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the latest high profile Brit to contract the coronavirus. He remains in the intensive care unit (ICU) though he is currently in stable condition.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove stated in an interview with the BBC that although the Prime Minister was not using a ventilator, he had received oxygen support.
Moreover, Gove mentioned that the PM was receiving the best possible care at St. Thomas’ Hospital, a large public health institution in London.
In a further update, a spokesperson for Johnson said that the British Prime Minister is stable, does not have pneumonia, and has not required invasive – or non-invasive – ventilation.
The British PM was moved into intensive care on Monday after days of exhibiting persistent COVID-19 symptoms.
Succession procedures laid out
While Johnson has authorized foreign secretary Dominic Rabb to deputize important matters of state, the fact remains that the United Kingdom does not have a formal succession plan in case the prime minister becomes incapacitated or dies.
It largely depends on the ruling party, as they would have to elect a new leader to be approved by the Queen. The process normally takes days or weeks, something that the UK doesn’t have in a national emergency like this.
During emergencies, one of the three senior members of the Cabinet may be assigned. The chancellor (finance minister), home secretary, or foreign secretary could lead the government in case untoward incidents happen to the PM.
In a press conference, Johnson’s spokesperson said that despite the lack of a formal succession procedure in the UK, there was an established order of ministerial precedence, with the top finance minister following the foreign minister in case the Prime Minister is incapacitated for a long time.
The reason for the non-existence of a formalized system of succession arises from the fact that the UK is headed by the Cabinet, with the Prime Minister being the first among equals.
With a reported number of more than 52,000 cases, 5,302 deaths, and 305 recoveries, the Uk is currently the 10th most infected country on the planet, just behind countries such as China, Iran, and the US.
A receding economy in the time of COVID-19
For a country that used to be a global economic powerhouse that spanned both sides of the globe, the UK is now facing an unprecedented economic crisis.
Economists from Nomura, a Japanese multinational financial services company, have warned that the economy of the United Kingdom is now predicted to shrink by 7.8 percent in 2020. This marks the most severe hit to livelihoods since the 13% wipeout back in 1921.
It also marks one of the worst setbacks to the local economy since the end of World War 2, with GDP falling by 4.6 percent.
The jobs market isn’t faring any better as Britain’s largest jobs recruitment website showed that the number of new vacancies being advertised over the past three weeks was similar to the amounts recorded in nine months during the financial crash of 2008.
Finally, internal banking documents showed that around half of the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be bankrupt in just eight weeks due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr/EU2017EE