British Prime Minister Boris Johnson still needs time to rest and recuperate following his stint in intensive care with coronavirus, the Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
Patel said it was ‘vital’ that the Prime Minister returned to full health, but added that he required time and space to recover.
Johnson was moved out of intensive care after three nights on Thursday and Downing Street said on Friday he had managed to start walking, although his recovery was at an early stage.
‘The Prime Minister continues to make very good progress,’ a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
Number 10 had previously confirmed he was able to take short walks as he began his recovery. They did not say how long he is expected to remain in hospital.
During his time in intensive care, the Conservative Party leader passed the time doing sudoku puzzles and watching films including Lord Of The Rings and Withnail And I, the 1987 comedy starring Richard E Grant and Paul McGann.
Yesterday it was revealed that Carrie Symonds sent Boris pregnancy scans of their unborn baby as he continues to recover from the coronavirus in hospital. Ms Symonds, 32, also wrote to the Prime Minister.
This week it emerged the PM had waved to show his ‘gratitude’ to NHS staff as he was moved out of intensive care. But Number 10 stressed Mr Johnson is only ‘beginning his recovery’ – playing down the idea of him working soon.
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has been able to do short walks, between periods of rest, as part of the care he is receiving to aid his recovery.
‘He has spoken to his doctors and thanks the whole clinical team for the incredible care he has received. His thoughts are with those affected by this terrible disease.’
The premier’s father Stanley warned that he will need time to recover before ‘picking up the reins’ of government again.
Ministers have been speculating it could take weeks before Mr Johnson is back in action.
With the Government due to carry out the first three-week review of the lockdown measures next week, ministers are facing calls to explain how the restrictions will ultimately be lifted.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Mr Johnson, has said the Government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies would be studying the evidence but they would not be able to say more until the end of the week.
The deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has warned it is ‘premature’ to think the outbreak had reached its peak.
While he said there were signs the ‘curve is bending’ in terms of hospital admissions, he said it was still too soon to start lifting the lockdown.
‘We are in a dangerous phase still,’ he said. ‘It’s premature to say we are at a peak and the push we are making with social distancing just has to continue.’
A British scientist has said that a vaccine to coronavirus could be ready as soon as September.
Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, told The Times on Saturday that she was ‘80% confident’ that the vaccine being developed by her team would work, with human trials due to begin in the next fortnight.