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British PM Boris Johnson spends 2nd night in intensive care

A policeman stands guard outside St.Thomas' Hospital in London, Britain, on Wednesday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being treated for COVID-19 at the facility. Photo by Will Oliver/EPA-EFE
A policeman stands guard outside St.Thomas' Hospital in London, Britain, on Wednesday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being treated for COVID-19 at the facility. Photo by Will Oliver/EPA-EFE

April 8 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a second night in the intensive care unit of a London hospital Wednesday with the coronavirus disease.

Edward Argar, a junior health minister, told BBC News Johnson was "comfortable" and "stable."

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"He's in good spirits," he said. ""While he's had oxygen, he hasn't been on a ventilator."

Johnson has been at St. Thomas' Hospital, where he was taken into intensive with COVID-19 on Monday.

RELATED Officials: British PM Boris Johnson in intensive care, but not on ventilator

Britain has nearly 56,000 coronavirus cases and and 6,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Argar on Wednesday denied reports that Johnson's illness has led to disagreements among cabinet ministers over the British response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is running the government in Johnson's absence but has no power to make major decisions on his own, the government said Tuesday, causing some confusion as to who has the ultimate say in the coronavirus response and national security matters.

"[Johnson] set out a very clear strategy for this government, he's still the prime minister and he's asked that while he's in hospital that Dominic [Raab] -- who is an extremely able colleague -- deputizes for him," Argar said in a radio interview."I don't see any [power] vacuum or anything like that."

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Raab told reporters Tuesday he's chairing the government's "coronavirus war cabinet" in Johnson's stead, insisting he had "clear instructions" from the prime minister about what needs to be done. However, he avoided answering questions about whether he has power to settle disagreements among cabinet members.

Efforts to develop an antibody test for COVID-19, meanwhile, have been hampered by the reluctance of Britain's public health service to share blood samples of coronavirus patients with private labs, The Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The newspaper cited leaked documents in which the private labs say Public Health England has ignored requests for samples despite pleas to do so from former British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

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