Boris Johnson was tonight taken out of intensive care in a sign he is winning his coronavirus battle.
The Prime Minister, who has been in hospital since Sunday, has spent three nights in a high-dependency unit at St Thomas’s Hospital in central London after his condition deteriorated.
The announcement came just hours after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been standing in for him while he was incapacitated, said he was making ‘positive steps forward’ in his treatment.
This evening a No 10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.
‘He is in extremely good spirits.’
Thoughts will now turn to how long Mr Johnson might remain in hospital before he is well enough to play a full part in Government again.
The birth of his child with Carrie Symonds, 32, is also only weeks away, and the couple have been apart since he went into isolation on March 27.
On another tumultuous day in the struggle to control coronavirus:
- Downing Street said that planning is under way across Whitehall for an exit strategy from lockdown, but ministers are facing criticism for secrecy over the plans;
- Mr Johnson is ‘continuing to improve’ in intensive care, and he has been sitting up ‘engaging’ with medical staff treating him at St Thomas’ hospital;
- A respected think-tank has warned that a million people could end up with long-term health conditions as a result of the economic hit from coronavirus lockdown;
- The Bank of England has extended the government’s Ways and Means provision – effectively its overdraft;
- New figures show the economy had effectively flatlined before the coronavirus crisis hit with 0.1 per cent growth in the three months to February;
- It has emerged that MPs have been offered an extra £10,000 in expenses to help them and staff work from home;
- EU officials have accused the UK government of being in ‘fantasy land’ by insisting the Brexit transition period cannot be extended beyond December;
It came as the UK recorded 881 more coronavirus deaths today, taking Britain’s total to 7,978 as its coronavirus crisis rumbles on.
Mr Raab, the Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, began the daily news conference this evening by saying: ‘Can I start with an update on the Prime Minister – he’s still in intensive care but he continues to make positive steps forward and he’s in good spirits.’
But he confirmed that he had not spoken to Mr Johnson since taking over his duties. Asked if they had been in touch he said: ‘Not yet. It’s important, particularly while he is intensive care that he is able to focus on his recovery.’
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee which signalled the lockdown will continue for weeks longer despite mounting fears over the economic hit.
Downing Street had relayed more positive signs about the Prime Minister’s health this morning, saying he had a ‘good night’ although he is still receiving oxygen.
‘The PM had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care at St Thomas’s. He is in good spirits,’ his spokesman said.
However, there is no sign Mr Johnson will be able to take part in decisions over the outbreak ravaging the country, after No10 confirmed yesterday that he is not working.
In a round of interviews earlier, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the premier was doing ‘reasonably well’.
He told BBC Breakfast this morning: ‘He’s stable, improving, sat up and engaged with medical staff.
‘I’ve known the Prime Minister for a long time and I wish him well in this difficult time and I think things are getting better for him.’
Asked about whether the PM will be able to make a decision himself on the lockdown next week, Mr Dowden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘He’s in a stable condition, he seems to be doing reasonably well, he was sat up and engaging with medical staff.
‘But we have a well-established mechanism for the first minister Dominic Raab to take the Prime Minister’s place in chairing such meetings, he will chair Cobra and he will chair the relevant decisions. This is just about going through a proper process, that’s why we’re waiting for next week.’