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Boris Johnson leaves hospital, thanks NHS for saving his life

By Aditi Khanna
Last updated on: April 12, 2020 23:47 IST
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday vowed that Britain 'will defeat' the deadly coronavirus, soon after he was discharged from hospital following week-long intensive care treatment for the disease that has killed over 10,000 people in the country.

Downing Street said that Johnson left St. Thomas' Hospital in London and will head to his prime ministerial residence of Chequers in Buckinghamshire, south east England.

In a video message recorded to mark his discharge as well as Easter Sunday, the 55-year-old leader said that the United Kingdom 'will defeat this coronavirus and defeat it together'.


He said: "I have today left hospital after a week in which the NHS (National Health Service) has saved my life, no question. It's hard to find the words to express my debt.

"And the reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night they (NHS doctors and nurses) were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed."

Johnson name-checked a number of the 'utterly brilliant' doctors and nurses for their care during his week-long hospitalisation and stressed that the UK will win the 'national battle' against coronavirus because the NHS is the 'beating heart of this country'.

"It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love. So thank you from me, and from all of us, to the NHS, and let's remember to follow the rules on social distancing. Stay at home, protect our NHS - and save lives," he said.

As he wished the British public a Happy Easter, Johnson also expressed his thanks to the many millions and millions of people across this country doing the right thing and going through the hardship of self-isolation.

He said: "I want you to know that this Easter Sunday I do believe that your efforts are worth it, and are daily proving their worth.

"Because although we mourn every day those who are taken from us in such numbers, and though the struggle is by no means over, we are now making progress in this incredible national battle against coronavirus.

"A fight we never picked against an enemy we still don't entirely understand."

Earlier, Downing Street said that on the advice of his medical team, Johnson will not be returning to work immediately, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to continue deputising as he recuperates.

"The PM has been discharged from hospital to continue his recovery, at Chequers," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

"He wishes to thank everybody at St Thomas' for the brilliant care he has received. All of his thoughts are with those affected by this illness," the spokesperson said.

Previously, in his first public statement since being moved out of intensive care at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, the UK prime minister said: "I can't thank them enough, I owe them my life."

The news of Johnson's discharge came as the COVID-19 death toll in the UK crossed the 10,000 mark on Sunday, to hit a total of 10,612 after a daily hike of 737 deaths.

Johnson, who completed a week in hospital on Sunday after being shifted there with persistent COVID-19 symptoms, had been making 'very good progress' while on the hospital ward. He was able to take short walks as his doctors monitored his recovery after being moved out of intensive care and was watching films and doing puzzles in his hospital bed.

Johnson's fiance Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant with their first child, is said to have sent him letters and baby scans to lift his spirits during his time in hospital.

Thousands of get-well cards have also poured in for him since he went into self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus over two weeks ago.

Asked about plans for his return to work, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Saturday that Johnson needed 'time and space to rest, recuperate and recover'.

The Indian-origin Cabinet minister, who led the daily Downing Street update on the pandemic, has urged people to stay at home over the Easter weekend to curb the spread of the virus, despite warm and sunny weather across parts of the UK.

"We have given the police powers to enforce the necessary measures we have put in place, including through enforcement fines," said Patel.

"If you don't play your part... our selfless police will be unafraid to act. You will be endangering the lives of your own family, friends and loved ones," she said.

Meanwhile, an Easter message posted on the official 10 Downing Street Twitter account on behalf of the UK prime minister also urged people to stay at home to save lives.

It reads: "Wishing everyone a very happy Easter from Downing Street.

"This year across the country churches will remain closed, and families will spend the day apart. But by staying home, remember, you are protecting the NHS and saving lives."

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Aditi Khanna in London
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