Boris Johnson health fears as PM issued stark warning over return to Number 10
Experts said the Prime Minister will feel as if he has been “hit by several buses” after his 72-hour stint in intensive care with COVID-19. Father, Stanley ordered his son to “rest up” and warned he was not “out of the woods” yet. Downing Street said Mr Johnson, 55, would only resume his duties when his doctors advise him it is safe to do so.
The Prime Minister waved at staff in St Thomas’ Hospital in London to show his gratitude for their care as he was moved out of intensive care.
No 10 stressed he is still in the early stages of his recovery but said he continues to be in “very good spirits”.
Downing Street would not be drawn on how long it may be before the Prime Minister takes the helm again.
But a consultant virologist said Mr Johnson is likely to be told to take it easy for several weeks once he is discharged from hospital.
Dr Chris Smith, from the University of Cambridge, said becoming ill enough to warrant a stay in intensive care leaves a patient “weak and exhausted” for a “significant” period of time.
He said: “Being severely unwell and sufficiently ill to warrant ICU admission really takes it out of you and leaves people weak and exhausted for a significant period of time afterwards.”
Mr Johnson’s previous good health and the fact he had not needed to be put on a ventilator means “he is likely to be able to bounce back more quickly” than some people.
“It’ll still be a few weeks before he’s feeling like his old self though,” he added.
Doctors and nurses will be aiming to get Mr Johnson home as soon as possible, Dr Smith said.
“To make this decision they’ll monitor respiratory function and, if he’s stable and continuing to improve and not oxygen-dependent, including at night, then he’ll go home with instructions to take it easy for – at least – several weeks to recover,” he said.
Dr Smith added that it takes at least a week to recover for every day that someone has been in intensive care, and advice to patients includes staying active, eating and drinking well, and building up strength gradually.
Professor Duncan Young, an ICU consultant, said staff will be monitoring the Prime Minister’s need for oxygen, and assessing when he is able to go home.
He said: “My guess is he is now on a normal oxygen face mask. That’s the point when it is likely someone is discharged from ICU.
“As his need for additional oxygen goes down, the hospital staff will dial down the level of oxygen, and it will get to the point where he can breathe ordinary air. Staff will have to decide at that point whether it is safe for him to go home.”
As well as being able to breathe without added oxygen, doctors and nurses will be looking to see if Mr Johnson is able to do things for himself, such as walk and eat.
His father, Stanley Johnson said the whole family was “tremendously grateful” for the support they had received and the NHS care the Prime Minister had been given.
“To use that American expression, he almost took one for the team. We have got to make sure we play the game properly now,” Mr Johnson Senior told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“This is pretty straightforward now. He must rest up. As I understand it, he has moved from the ICU into a recovery unit, but I don’t think you can say this is out of the woods now.
“He has to take time. 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.”
Mr Johnson is said to have phoned fiancee, Carrie Symonds, who is due to give birth to their first child within weeks, when he was moved to the recovery ward.
Ms Symonds, 32, was also struck down by COVID-19 symptoms, though has since recovered, and they have been apart for two weeks.
On Friday afternoon, Downing Street said the Prime Minister had been up walking and had also thanked the medical team.
A No 10 spokesman: “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 Prime Minister was admitted to hospital on Sunday and moved to intensive care the following evening.
His official spokesman said Mr Johnson was “enormously grateful” for the care he had received.
“I am told he was waving his thanks towards the nurses and doctors that he saw as he was being moved from the intensive care unit back to the ward,” the spokesman said.
“Hopefully it was clear to the staff that he was waving his gratitude.”
The spokesman said he was not aware of any contact between Mr Johnson and No 10 and that it was too early to say how long he would need to remain in hospital.
“The Prime Minister is back on a ward and continuing his recovery which is at an early stage. He continues to be in very good spirits,” the spokesman said.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab continues to deputise for Mr Johnson and may need to rule on whether lockdown measures should remain in place next week.
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