LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson left hospital on Sunday and thanked the National Health Service for saving his life, saying “things could have gone either way” for him as he battled COVID-19.
Johnson, 55, was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in central London on April 5, suffering from persistent symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. On April 6 he was moved into intensive care, where he remained until April 9.
“I have today left hospital after a week in which the NHS has saved my life, no question,” he said in a five-minute video message posted on Twitter from 10 Downing Street as the official death toll in Britain passed 10,000.
He named and thanked the nurses who had cared for him, with a special mention for two of them, Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal, who he said had stood by his bedside for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way”.
“The reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night they were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed,” he said.
Johnson wore a suit and tie and spoke in his usual energetic manner. In characteristic fashion, he made a joke, thanking the doctors who had cared for him, “several of them for some reason called Nick”.
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Johnson will continue his recovery at Chequers, the official prime ministerial country residence northwest of London, his office said.
A Reuters photographer saw Johnson and his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds, 32, who has also suffered from COVID-19 symptoms, being driven out of Downing Street, in central London, with their dog.
“There were times last week that were very dark indeed. My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones,” Symonds said on Twitter. “Today I’m feeling incredibly lucky.”
While Johnson has been out of action, his ministers have come under mounting pressure to explain why the national death toll is rising so fast.
Britain has reported two days in a row of hospital deaths increasing by more than 900 people. Friday’s death toll of 980 surpassed the highest recorded in a single day in Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe so far.
The death toll in Britain rose to 10,612, an officials statement said on Sunday.
Johnson thanked the public for following strict social distancing guidelines in place since March 23 and assured them their efforts were paying off.
“I want you to know that this Easter Sunday I do believe that your efforts are worth it, and are daily proving their worth,” he said.
“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.”
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