LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to work on Monday more than three weeks after being hospitalised for the coronavirus and spending three days in intensive care.
Johnson, one of the highest-profile people to have contracted the virus, returned to 10 Downing Street on Sunday evening and will chair a meeting on Monday morning of the coronavirus “war cabinet”.
Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary who deputised in Johnson’s absence, said his return would be a “boost for the government and a boost for the country” adding that the prime minister was “raring to go”.
Johnson was admitted to hospital on April 5 suffering from persistent symptoms of the deadly disease. His condition worsened and he later admitted after being put in intensive care. He was discharged on April 12 and has been recuperating at his official residence.
In a video message after leaving hospital, Johnson thanked “Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal” for helping him recover. He has not been doing official government work on medical advice during his convalescence but has spoken to Queen Elizabeth and US President Donald Trump on the phone.
The British leader was diagnosed with the virus late last month but initially stayed at Downing Street and was filmed taking part in a round of applause for health workers in the days before he went to hospital.
Britain has been one of the countries worst affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, with the number of deaths reaching 20,732 in the days before Johnson’s return while the actual toll could be much higher.
A decision Johnson will face is whether or not to relax strict social distancing rules which he introduced on March 23 as pressure builds for the government to clarify over extending or relaxing the lockdown. The lockdown was extended on April 16 and a review is due on May 7.
Johnson faces calls from within his own party to ease restrictions and respond to a letter from new opposition Labour party leader Keir Starmer asking for details on a potential lifting of the lockdown.
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