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Boris Johnson leaves intensive care as UK extends lockdown

  • Alex Morales and Robert Hutton

    Bloomberg

London, United Kingdom   /   Fri, April 10, 2020   /   03:45 pm
Boris Johnson leaves intensive care as UK extends lockdown A still image from footage released by 10 Downing Street, the office of the British prime minister, on April 3, 2020 shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 10 Downing Street central London giving an update on his condition after he announced that he had tested positive for the new coronavirus on March 27, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in (AFP/- / 10 Downing Street )

Boris Johnson was released from intensive care Thursday evening after his deputy said it’s too soon for the UK to relax the lockdown imposed 17 days ago in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The UK premier remains in the hospital “where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery,” from coronavirus, his office said in an emailed statement Thursday evening. “He is in extremely good spirits.”

Speaking earlier before the start of a four-day Easter break, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab signaled Britain needs to maintain stringent curbs on the movement of people imposed to stop the spread of the disease.

“We’re not done yet, we must keep going,” Raab said in a televised briefing in London on Thursday. “Deaths are still rising, and we still haven’t seen the peak of the virus. So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we’ve put in place. We must stick to the plan.”

With good weather forecast for much of the long weekend, ministers are anxious to avoid scenes of people gathering in groups in parks, beaches and beauty spots. The government rolled out an advertising campaign on social media and in print urging Britons to stay home, protect the National Health Service and save lives over the Easter break.

Raab spoke after the death toll from the virus rose by a further 881 to bring the total to 7,978. Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned he expects the number of deaths to increase for “a few weeks” yet.

When the UK imposed sweeping restrictions on movement on March 23, Johnson said the measures would be reviewed in three weeks -- a deadline that falls on Monday. The lockdown has brought the economy to a near halt, and triggered a surge in the number of people claiming welfare payments for the first time.

Still, the number of deaths from the virus has continued to increase, and government scientists say they don’t have enough data yet to show the restrictions are having enough of an effect to justify being relaxed.

‘Weeks’

It will be “several more weeks” before scientists will be able to draw conclusions about the rate of decline in cases and therefore recommend any lifting of measures, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London who advises the government, told BBC Radio 4 on Friday. But he also said there’s preliminary evidence the lockdown is working better than expected to reduce the number of transmissions.

Johnson, 55, announced he was isolating with coronavirus on March 27, and was admitted to St. Thomas’s hospital in London on April 5 after struggling to shake off the symptoms. He was moved to intensive care the following evening when his condition worsened, and was given oxygen but not put on a ventilator.

Raab, who has deputized for Johnson since the premier was transferred to critical care, wouldn’t say how long he expects the restrictions will be extended for. He said the government would analyze the data next week.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty pointed to one positive sign -- the rate of confirmed infections has slowed. Instead of doubling every three days, they are now taking six days or more, he said.


If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak