Downing Street attacks Russia for spreading ‘disinformation’ after Putin’s state media claimed that Boris Johnson is on a ventilator as he battles coronavirus in hospital
- Russian state news agency claimed Boris Johnson will be put on a ventilator
- Comes after Prime Minister was taken to hospital for ‘tests’ over coronavirus
- Downing Street has flatly denied that Mr Johnson requires a ventilator, and said he was taken to hospital as a precaution on the advice of his doctor
- Meanwhile Vladimir Putin will self-isolate for at least a week over virus fears
Downing Street blasted Russian ‘disinformation’ today after a Moscow state media outlet claimed Boris Johnson had been placed on a ventilator to create his coronavirus.
A furious No 10 lashed out after the RIA Novosti news agency published claims by an anonymous source ‘close to the top of England’s national healthcare system’ claiming Mr Johnson was ‘rushed’ to hospital and required treatment with an artificial lung due to coronavirus.
That claim was flatly denied by Downing Street which said the Prime Minister had gone to hospital on the advice of his doctor for ‘tests’ because he continued to present symptoms of the virus 10 days after catching it.
This evening it was however announced that Mr Johnson had been moved to the intensive care unit.
Earlier today Mr Johnson was today said to be in ‘good spirits’ in St Thomas’s Hospital in London, but Downing Street said he was well enough to receive his ministerial red box with official documents, and had been in contact with aides.
This afternoon his official spokesman, responding to the RIA claims, said: ‘This is disinformation.
Russian state media has been accused of misinformation after quoting an anonymous ‘source’ who said that that Boris Johnson will be put on a ventilator after being admitted to hospital
Downing Street has flatly denied that Mr Johnson – who tested positive for coronavirus 10 days ago – requires emergency treatment, saying he went to hospital for ‘tests’ on doctor’s advice
‘Our specialist government units have seen a rise in false and misleading narratives since the coronavirus pandemic started.
‘It is vital that any disinformation is knocked down quickly.
‘DCMS and the Cabinet Office continue to work closely with social media companies to press for further action to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumours.’
It cames as it was revealed that Vladimir Putin has been self-isolating after shaking hands with a doctor who later tested positive for the virus.
The office of the Russian President said he began taking the measures last week after coming into close contact with the medic during a visit to a hospital in Moscow.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state-run TV: ‘A week has passed; I dare to suggest that Putin will work remotely for another week, or even longer.’
Meanwhile claims about the British Prime Minister’s condition were circulated among Russian outlets including RT and Sputnik – which are often accused of circulating state propaganda – before making their way into foreign outlets.
The Moscow report was headlined ‘Source: Johnson will be on artificial lung ventilation’ .
Datelined London, it reported Johnson had been ‘rushed’ to hospital.
It cited ‘a source close to the top of England’s national healthcare system’ telling RIA Novosti: ‘He will be on artificial lung ventilation.’
The source was not identified.
The report said that earlier the premier’s official representative said that Johnson – who was diagnosed with coronavirus and still suffers from problems like high fever and cough – has been admitted into a hospital at a recommendation of his doctor.
Vladimir Putin began self-isolating last week after shaking hands with a doctor who had coronavirus, and will continue working from home this week his spokesman has said
And it made clear that Downing Street said that Johnson continues to be in charge of the government and was in touch with the Cabinet.
BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Daniel Sandford, formerly based in Moscow for the corporation, tweeted: ‘Well, either the Russian news agency has amazing sources or this is a shocking lie.
‘RIA Novosti claims Boris Johnson will have ‘artificial lung ventilation’.
‘Assuming this is untrue, it is a truly dreadful bit of misinformation.’
RT in Russian made clear that the source’s claims were different to the official British government statement.
Sputnik’s headline stated ‘UK Prime Minister Will Undergo Lung Ventilation as His Covid-19 Symptoms Persist – Source’.
Observers – including the BBC’s Daniel Sandford who was once to corporation’s Moscow correspondent – accused state media of ‘dreadful misinformation’
The report claimed: ‘UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tested positive for COVID-19, will get artificial lung ventilation, a source close to the UK healthcare authorities told Sputnik.’