LONDON, England (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out of intensive care Thursday at the London hospital where he is being treated for the new coronavirus, as his Government told Britons to prepare for several more weeks in lockdown.
Johnson had been in the ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital since Monday after his symptoms of COVID-19 worsened.
Johnson’s office said he was “moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery”.
It said Johnson was in “extremely good spirits”.
The British leader tested positive for the new coronavirus two weeks ago and at first had only “mild” symptoms. He was hospitalised Sunday and taken to the ICU a day later. Johnson had been receiving oxygen without being placed on a ventilator.
His condition appeared to be improving over the past day or so. Earlier yesterday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been standing in for the prime minister during key meetings, said Johnson was “making positive steps forward”.
News of Johnson’s improving condition was welcomed across the British political spectrum — and by US President Donald Trump, who tweeted: “Great News: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just been moved out of Intensive Care. Get well Boris!!!”
As Johnson recovered, the Government told Britons it was too early to ease restrictions on public activity imposed March 23 to try to slow the spread of the virus.
The original restrictions were for three weeks, a period that ends Monday. But after chairing a meeting of the Government’s crisis committee, COBRA, Raab said no decision on lifting Government’s stay-home order and business closures would be made “until evidence clearly shows that we’ve moved beyond the peak” of the outbreak.
“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,” Raab said.
He said the Government and its scientific experts would assess the evidence again next week.
“We mustn’t give the coronavirus a second chance to kill more people and to hurt our country,” Raab said at the Government’s daily news conference.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and in some cases death.
Almost 8,000 people with the coronavirus have died in British hospitals, according to Government figures. While the number of new confirmed cases has begun to plateau, deaths have neared the peaks seen in Italy and Spain, the two countries with the greatest number of fatalities.
The UK yesterday reported 881 new deaths, down from the 938 recorded the day before. Italy recorded a high of 969 deaths on March 27 and Spain 950 deaths on April 2.
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