Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now returned to Downing Street and to work after recovering from coronavirus. Mr Johnson’s battle with COVID-19 saw him hospitalised for a week at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, with three of those days spent in intensive care. After leaving the hospital, Mr Johnson spent time recovering at his country home, Chequers.
Now back to work, Mr Johnson gave a speech outside Downing Street to mark his return.
The Prime Minister apologised for being away from his desk for longer than he wanted.
He thanked Dominic Raab for stepping up in his stead, and thanked the public for adhering to lockdown guidelines.
Below is Mr Johnson’s statement in full.
Mr Johnson said he shared business concerns about the length of the lockdown but he refused to “throw away all the effort and sacrifice of the British people” and risk a second peak.
Mr Johnson continued: “It is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war and I in no way minimise the continuing problems we face.
“And yet it is also true that we are making progress with fewer hospital admissions, fewer COVID patients in ICU and real signs now that we are passing through the peak.
“And thanks to your forbearance, your good sense your altruism, your spirit of community, thanks to our collective national resolve, we are on the brink of achieving that first clear mission to prevent our National Health Service from being overwhelmed in a way that tragically we have seen elsewhere.
He said he understood “how hard and stressful it has been to give up, even temporarily, those ancient and basic freedoms”.
But he said: “We must also recognise the risk of a second spike, the risk of losing control of that virus and letting the reproduction rate go back over one because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster.”
Mr Johnson added: “And so I know it is tough. And I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can, but I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS.
“And I ask you to contain your impatience, because I believe we are coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict and in spite of all the suffering we have so nearly succeeded.
“We defied so many predictions. We did not run out of ventilators or ICU beds.
“We did not allow our NHS to collapse, and on the contrary, we have so far collectively shielded our NHS so that our incredible doctors and nurses and healthcare staff have been able to shield all of us from an outbreak that would have been far worse and we collectively flattened the peak.”
Mr Johnson added: “And so when we are sure that this first phase is over and that we are meeting our five tests: deaths falling, NHS protected, rate of infection down, really sorting out the challenges of testing and PPE, avoiding a second peak, then that will be the time to move on to the second phase in which we continue to suppress the disease and keep the reproduction rate – the R rate – down, but begin gradually to refine the economic and social restrictions and one-by-one to fire up the engines of this vast UK economy.
“And in that process, difficult judgments will be made and we simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when those changes will be made, though clearly, the Government will be saying much more about this in the coming days.”
Mr Johnson said in terms of discussions about changes to restrictions: “We will also be reaching out to build the biggest possible consensus across business, across industry, across all parts of our United Kingdom, across party lines, bringing in opposition parties as far as we possibly can.
“I think that’s no less than what the British people would expect.”
Mr Johnson concluded by saying if the UK can show the same sense of optimism shown by Captain Tom Moore, we will come through this.
Published at Mon, 27 Apr 2020 08:26:00 +0000