Once again, there had been a lack of candour: when the Russian media claimed that Johnson had been put on a ventilator, it was angrily dismissed by those “10 Downing Street sources”. By yesterday evening, it was admitted that he had been given oxygen before being moved to the ICU - to be nearer to a … ventilator.
Meanwhile, seemingly unnoticed by her fellow media folk, Sarah “Vain” Vine mused “It increasingly seems that people need to be checked for potential complications around day 6/7 of corona symptoms - apparently that is when those who are likely to have pulmonary problems begin to suffer. Early treatment at this stage is key”. Whoever did she mean?
Johnson had been suffering the effects of Covid-19 for 11 days or so before being whisked off to St Thomas’. But it was during last week, at around that 6 to 7 day mark, that concerns about Johnson’s breathing first reached the press, although it was not until the weekend that the Guardian reported it. Other titles kept schtum.“Pulmonary problems” means “breathing difficulties”. Then, as the news of Johnson’s transfer to ICU became known, came another giveaway, this time from Iain Duncan Cough, who, in a rare moment of candour, let slip that Johnson was gravely ill.
He told the BBC “I know him very well so I am deeply saddened really that it should come to this. He has obviously tried like mad to try and get through this but it’s not good enough so far … It doesn’t mean that he is not going to pull through this because they may have put him on intensive care because they can treat him and he may have a secondary infection, a serious chest infection and that will stabilise him”. A secondary infection.
So it should surprise no-one that the Mirror has broken ranks with the rest of the press this morning and told its readers “Fears that Johnson now has pneumonia”. Not even the creative spirit of Michael “Oiky” Gove has summoned the courage to deny that.
The reality of the situation is slowly emerging. But we are still being kept in the dark. We hope for the best, but must remain prepared for the worst.