Boris Johnson recuperating at Chequers after coronavirus battle - what we know so far

Monday, 13th April 2020, 10:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 11:07 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care on Monday (6 Apr) after his coronavirus symptoms worsened (Photo: Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has paid tribute to the NHS after he was discharged from hospital, having spent three nights in intensive care.

Mr Johnson said there is “no question” that the NHS saved his life after he contracted coronavirus, admitting there was a 48-hour period when things "could have gone either way".

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He had been admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in central London on Sunday (5 Apr) evening after his coronavirus symptoms worsened.

He was moved to intensive care at around 7pm on Monday (6 Apr) where he spent three nights before being moved back to the ward.

What is the Prime Minister’s current condition?

Mr Johnson was discharged from hospital on Sunday (12 Apr) and is now recuperating at the Chequers estate, as he takes some time off from the top job following his coronavirus battle.

The Prime Minister has been reunited with his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds and will spend time at the 16th century Buckinghamshire mansion, following a seven-night spell in hospital during which he said "things could have gone either way".

He is said to have had a "good night" and thanked the NHS staff for the "brilliant care" he has received, a spokesman said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Johnson Snr played down suggestions his son would be returning to Downing Street any time soon.

He said:  "To use that American expression, he almost took one for the team. We have got to make sure we play the game properly now.

"This is pretty straightforward now. He must rest up.

"As I understand it, he has moved from the ICU into a recovery unit but I don't think you can say this is out of the woods now.

"He has to take time. I cannot believe you can walk away from this and get straight back to Downing Street and pick up the reins without a period of readjustment."

Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab will deputising in his absence.

Why was Boris Johnson taken to intensive care?

The Prime Minister was admitted to hospital on Sunday on the advice of his medical team, after suffering persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

His symptoms were previously described as “mild”, and included a cough and a continuing high temperature. They were later described as “persistent”, after failing to improve over more than a week.

The hospital admission was not an emergency, but rather a “precautionary step”, but Mr Johnson was later moved to intensive care, when his symptoms got worse.

His move to intensive care came just a few hours after Mr Raab told a press briefing that the Prime Minister remained in charge of the Government, despite remaining under medical observation.

A statement from Downing Street said, "The Prime Minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas' Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

"Over the course of [Monday] afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital.

"The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication."

Who will be in charge while the PM is in hospital?

Mr Raab will take charge of the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak while the Prime Minister is recuperating.

Mr Johnson ceded control “where necessary” to Raab, who is currently deputising for him in his absence.

Mr Raab has vowed to follow the "direction" set by Johnson for tackling the virus.

In a statement recorded after Mr Johnson's admission, Mr Raab said, "The Government's business will continue.

"The Prime Minister is in safe hands with that brilliant team at St Thomas' Hospital, and the focus of the government will continue to be on making sure that the Prime Minister's direction, all the plans for making sure that we can defeat coronavirus and can pull the country through this challenge, will be taken forward."

What treatment do coronavirus patients receive in intensive care?

Professor Derek Hill, at University College London (UCL), said that many patients suffering from coronavirus need help breathing.

Ventilators can be invasive (which involves a tube being put down the patient's throat), or non-invasive, such as breathing through a specialised mask.

Professor Hill said the Prime Minister could be given a breathing aid known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and full ventilation.

CPAP uses pressure to send a blend of air and oxygen into the mouth at a steady rate, thereby boosting the amount of oxygen that enters the lungs.

However, the professor said that many coronavirus patients eventually need to have invasive ventilation, meaning their illness is so severe they are struggling, or unable, to breathe by themselves. A mechanical ventilator either does all the breathing for the patient, or assists the patient's own breathing.

Are there any plans to ease the lockdown?

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that the current lockdown measures in place in the UK could be gradually eased “in the weeks to come”, although he stressed an exit strategy would require much more testing.

He said, "If we can do that then we can look in the weeks to come to begin to very carefully lift some of those measures.

"But an exit strategy that's sustainable will also have to be accompanied by much greater testing and tracing than we are able to do today."

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