Boris Johnson moves out of intensive care
Boris Johnson moved out of intensive care on Thursday evening and was described as being in “extremely good spirits”, in a sign that the medical crisis surrounding the prime minister was starting to ease.
Downing Street announced at just after 7pm that Mr Johnson, who had been in intensive care at London’s St Thomas’ hospital since Monday night, was on the road to recovery.
“The prime minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery,” Number 10 said. “He is in extremely good spirits.”
The news came as a huge relief to Mr Johnson’s colleagues, who were left shocked at the start of the week as the prime minister’s “mild” coronavirus symptoms turned into a medical emergency.
The prime minister was moved to intensive care on Monday night and was given “standard oxygen treatment” but he did not require ventilation or any other mechanical breathing aid.
Although Mr Johnson is likely to need a long period of rest after his ordeal, ministers will hope that the prime minister will soon be able to resume control of the government’s fight against the virus.
Earlier Dominic Raab, standing in for the prime minister, warned it was “too soon” to end the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, insisting restrictions would remain in force until scientific evidence clearly showed the country had “moved beyond the peak” of infections.
But Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, said that while social distancing measures and other restrictions were showing signs of slowing the progress of the virus, with new cases levelling off, he expected the number of deaths to keep rising for two weeks.
The increase in deaths would not abate yet because it lagged behind the number of new cases, Sir Patrick added.
The warnings came as deaths from the pandemic rose by nearly 900 in just 24 hours, bringing the total to just below 8,000. The government said total deaths had climbed to 7,978 as of 5pm on Wednesday, a daily increase of 881.
The review of current measures, promised by Mr Johnson before he became seriously ill with the virus, was expected to be concluded next week, but Mr Raab cautioned that “we’re not done yet, we must keep going”.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Mr Raab said: “It’s been almost three weeks and we’re starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made. But the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus.
“So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we put in place. After all the efforts everybody has made, after all the sacrifices so many people have made let’s not ruin it now.
“We mustn’t give the coronavirus a second chance to kill more people and to hurt our country.”
Mr Raab said the government’s scientific advisory group was still gathering data and would review it again next week, but that “we don’t expect to be able to say more on this until the end of next week”.
Meanwhile, the home secretary, Priti Patel, said it was clear during a cabinet call last Tuesday that Mr Johnson was “quite frankly” unwell.
In her first media appearance during the Covid-19 crisis, Ms Patel told Talk Radio: “ I spoke to him last week. So that would have been probably, I think, probably around the time of the last cabinet meeting, in fact, which was the last formal meeting I was involved with him.
“And it was clear, quite frankly, you know, he was unwell and he needed to get rest and recuperation.”