UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was discharged from the hospital on Sunday after receiving treatment for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. According to the New York Times, Johnson will not immediately resume his duties as prime minister and will be taking some time to recover. Nonetheless, he will be able to sign off on major decisions related to Britain’s coronavirus outbreak soon.
Johnson personally announced that he had left the hospital in a video, in which he is wearing a suit and tie, posted to Twitter. He immediately said that the National Health Service (NHS), the country’s healthcare system, had “saved his life, no question,” a striking contrast to the reassuring updates about his health issued by the government. Johnson is the first known head of government to have tested positive for covid-19.
The prime minister was hospitalized about a week ago as a “precautionary step” after continuing to have covid-19 symptoms 10 days after testing positive. He spent three nights in intensive care at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London and given oxygen treatment, although the government said he did not require a ventilator.
In the video, Johnson thanked the people of the UK for following social distancing measures, adding that the country was making progress because it had prevented the NHS from being overwhelmed by covid-19 cases. He appeared to be visibly moved when talking about the people who had cared for him and said that they took “crucial decisions” that he will always be grateful for.
It is hard to find the words to express my debt to the NHS for saving my life.
The efforts of millions of people across this country to stay home are worth it. Together we will overcome this challenge, as we have overcome so many challenges in the past. #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/HK7Ch8BMB5
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) April 12, 2020
Johnson singled out two nurses, one from New Zealand and one from Portugal, who he said stayed by his bedside for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way.”
“And the reason, in the end, my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night, they were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed,” Johnson said.
While Johnson recovers, the government said that Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, would continue to fill in for him. Johnson had deputized Raab to run the government as his conditioned worsened. Per the Guardian, Raab has already announced that the UK’s lockdown will be extended beyond the initial three-week period set by Johnson on March 23.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, as of Sunday the UK had 85,175 confirmed covid-19 cases and 10,612 deaths associated with the disease.