Downing Street slams Russian ‘disinformation’ over PM ventilator claim

Downing Street has slammed Russian “disinformation”, after a state-run news agency claimed Boris Johnson would soon be put on a ventilator because of the coronavirus.

The prime minister is in hospital under observation after being admitted on Sunday as a precaution.

He confirmed on 27 March that he has COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

PM spends the night in hospital

Despite over a week in self-isolation, Mr Johnson still has “persistent” symptoms of the virus – a cough and a temperature.

The PM said he was in “good spirits” at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and “keeping in touch with my team”.

And his official spokesman described him as having spent a “comfortable night” in the hospital.

But Russia’s RIA-Novosti had reported that Mr Johnson would be put on a ventilator, attributing the claim to a “source close to the leadership” of the NHS.

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.”

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He added that the government is continuing to work with social media companies to “press for further action to stem the further spread of falsehood and rumours”.

Downing Street has also hit out at the “crazed conspiracy theory” that 5G masts spread the coronavirus and warned that any vandals who destroy them are endangering lives.

Gove: 5G conspiracy theory ‘dangerous nonsense’

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will hold talks with social media giants this week to press the need to stop the nonsense theory spreading.

“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.