Boris Johnson’s father says the British prime minister needs time to recover from the new coronavirus and is unlikely to be back at work imminently.
The U.K. leader spent three nights in the intensive care unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London after his COVID-19 symptoms worsened. He was moved back to a regular ward on Thursday evening, and his office says he is in “the early phase of his recovery.”
His father Stanley Johnson said the prime minister needed to “rest up.”
“He has to take time,” Stanley Johnson told the BBC. “I cannot believe you can walk away from this and get straight back to Downing Street and pick up the reins without a period of readjustment.”
Johnson was diagnosed with COVID-19 two weeks ago, the first world leader confirmed to have the illness. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for Johnson while he is in hospital.
The prime minister's condition appeared to be improving over the past day or so. Raab said Thursday Johnson was “making positive steps forward.”
News of Johnson's improving condition was welcomed across the British political spectrum — and by U.S. 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 the 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.
Raab said “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.”
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.
On Thursday, the U.K. 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.
The figures may not be directly comparable, however. Not all the U.K. deaths reported each day occurred in the preceding 24 hours, and the total only includes deaths in hospitals.
U.K. officials have suggested restrictions could be tightened if people flock to parks and outdoor spaces over what is forecast to be a warm, sunny Easter weekend. Currently most parks remain open, and people are allowed to go outside for essential work. shopping and exercise.
While most Britons have observed the rules, there have been breaches. Police in the northwest English city of Manchester said they had broken up 660 parties in the city over the past two weeks, including some with DJs and fireworks.