Downing Street has hit out at Russian ‘disinformation’ after a state-run news agency claimed Boris Johnson would soon be put on a ventilator as he struggles with coronavirus.
The prime minister remained in hospital on Monday, where he was under observation with ‘persistent’ symptoms of Covid-19 which he has had for 11 days.
Russia’s RIA-Novosti had claimed Johnson would be put on a ventilator, citing a ‘source close to the leadership’ of the NHS.
But Johnson said he was in ‘good spirits’ in St Thomas’ in London, where he was said to be continuing to work while having the symptoms of a cough and a temperature.
His official spokesman described him as having spent a ‘comfortable night’ after being taken to hospital as a precaution.
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The PM’s spokesman said: ‘That is disinformation. Our specialist government units have seen a rise in false and misleading narratives since the coronavirus pandemic started. It’s vital that any disinformation is knocked down quickly.’
But officials did not deny a Times report that Johnson had received ‘oxygen treatment’ on arrival at the hospital.
A report into Russian influence in British politics has been delayed by Downing Street for the last six months, despite the former chair of the International Security Committee Dominic Grieve claiming it was ready for release in October.Meanwhile ministers are continuing to work with social media companies to ‘press for further action to stem the further spread of falsehood and rumours’, he added.Downing Street also criticised the ‘crazed conspiracy theory’ that 5G masts spread coronavirus and warned that any vandals who destroy them are putting lives at risk.’You’ve seen reports of criminal vandalism against 5G masts; people need to understand that by destroying these masts they’re actually putting lives at risk because these are masts that emergency responders rely upon,’ the spokesman added.Celebrities have been accused of fanning the flames of the conspiracy theories.Actor Woody Harrelson and former Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner are among stars who have shared misinformation.