In a few short hours the crisis over Boris Johnson’s health turned into a full-scale emergency last night.
The diplomatic fog that had obscured just how ill he really was lifted as it emerged he had been admitted to intensive care.
It took an intervention from our oldest ally across the Atlantic for questions to be asked about just how serious Mr Johnson’s illness was.
When Donald Trump revealed that ‘all Americans are praying’ for the Prime Minister, it soon emerged this was not typical hyperbole from the President.
At that stage, Downing Street was playing down the gravity of the Prime Minister’s plight.
The question is, had back channels to the US disclosed the true nature of Mr Johnson’s condition?
It had been against all Boris’s natural instincts to bow to coronavirus: Come what may he wanted to battle through.
To start, he had ignored all the evidence: The cough that wouldn’t clear up and the temperature that did not go down.
But the moment when he recognised that common sense had to take precedence over bloody-mindedness – lest he risk compromising his long-term health – came perilously late.
Reluctantly, and on doctors’ advice delivered remotely, he agreed to admit himself to hospital. For a Prime Minister who models himself on the stoic heroism of Winston Churchill, it also meant a moment of brutal introspection.
As with the old phrase, however willing the spirit, the flesh was weak. Just how ill is our Prime Minister? Bulletins from officials insisted his stay in hospital is a mere ‘precautionary step’.