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Pound falls as Boris Johnson taken to intensive care for COVID-19

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK

The pound fell against the dollar and euro on Monday evening after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care for COVID-19.

A Downing Street spokesperson said on Monday evening that the Prime Minister had been transferred to intensive care after his condition “worsened” while in hospital.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19) on 3 March 2020. (PA)

Johnson has been suffering from the novel coronavirus for almost two weeks and was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster, London, over the weekend. A spokesperson said at the time his admission was a precaution taken on the advice of doctors.

The pound had been trading higher against the dollar and the euro but fell sharply on the announcement. Sterling was down 0.3% against the dollar to $1.2229 (GBPUSD=X) and down 0.1% against the euro to €1.1326 (GBPEUR=X) shortly after the announcement.

The pound sold off sharply against the dollar after the announcement. (Yahoo Finance UK)

Downing Street said on Monday Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would deputise for the Prime Minister while he was in intensive care. Earlier on Monday, Raab had led the government’s daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic and said Johnson was in good spirits and still leading the government from his hospital bed.

“The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication,” the Downing Street spokesperson said.

UK officials said earlier in the day that 3,802 new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed over the last 24 hours and 439 people had died from the virus. The UK has recorded over 51,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and over 5,300 deaths.