Ministers 'want PM to dial in for lockdown decision on THURSDAY'

How soon will Boris Johnson be back? Ministers ‘want PM to dial in from Chequers bolthole for lockdown decision on THURSDAY’ despite warnings he could relapse if he resumes work too early after coronavirus battle

  • Boris Johnson was released from hospital yesterday after coronavirus battle
  • PM has gone to his Chequers country retreat where he will rest and recover
  • Questions over when PM will return to work – lockdown decision is due this week
  • Some in Cabinet believe it must be Mr Johnson who makes the final decision
  • But experts warn the PM he must rest or run the risk of relapsing into illness  
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Boris Johnson is beginning his road to recovery from coronavirus at his Chequers country estate today as the Cabinet is divided on when the Prime Minister should return to work. 

Mr Johnson was released from hospital yesterday and was taken to his grace and favour home in Buckinghamshire where he is under strict doctors’ orders to rest. 

But some senior ministers are already said to be pushing for the PM to be involved in the decision – expected on Thursday – on whether the UK’s lockdown will be extended. 

An extension of the social distancing restrictions is viewed as a formality but the duration is still up for discussion with some adamant it must be Mr Johnson’s decision. 

However, medical experts have warned that the PM must not return to work too soon or he could risk a relapse. 

Boris Johnson, pictured delivering his Easter message yesterday after he was released from hospital, is now recovering at his Chequers country estate

Mr Johnson is under strict doctors’ orders to rest at the PM’s grace and favour Buckinghamshire home 

The Prime Minister was moved from an intensive care unit back to a ward on Thursday night last week, spending two and a half more days at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London before he was allowed to leave yesterday. 

He is now at his Chequers country estate to continue his recovery.

Number 10 has stressed that Mr Johnson is only just beginning his path back to full health and ministers have warned it may take weeks before he is back in action.  

The NHS guidance on coronavirus states it ‘may take time’ for patients who have been in ICU to return to their ‘normal self’ and there may be ‘lingering problems’.

Going back to a normal hospital ward is a ‘big step’ on the road to recovery so the fact Mr Johnson has now been allowed to leave the hospital is a positive sign. 

Data collated by NHS hospitals in England shows that around half of Covid-19 patients who get admitted into intensive care die.

The most recent report – based on data from almost 2,300 patients – showed that 346 had died and 344 were discharged with the rest still being treated.

Survival odds are even bleaker for patients who need to be ventilated to keep their body functioning within the first 24 hours of arrival.

For example, figures suggest 70 per cent of patients in this critical position die, compared to 30 per cent who make it the first day without.

The PM did not need advanced respiratory support. Number 10 had said he was moved to ICU as a precaution. 

Experts have said it is impossible to predict how long it will take Mr Johnson to get back to normal health.

A decision on extending the state of lockdown is due to be taken by the end of this week with the current measures now having been in place for almost three weeks. 

The lockdown has hobbled the UK economy and that is why some ministers believe it must be Mr Johnson who signs off on what happens next by dialling into discussions later on this week.

One Cabinet source told The Telegraph: ‘The prime minister has to take that decision. 

‘Any lockdown will have huge implications, and the PM will be responsible for it, so he’s got to be the one taking that decision.’

However, not everyone in the Cabinet agrees. 

Some ministers are of the view that First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Mr Johnson, can take the decision without involving the PM. 

A source said: ‘I don’t think the Cabinet wants to be pulling the prime minister out of his recovery and risking him getting worse.’

Experts have said it is impossible to predict with any degree of certainty how quickly the PM could make a full recovery.

Duncan Young, professor of intensive care medicine at Oxford University, told The Times: ‘No one knows how long it takes to fully recover from Covid-19 infections because as yet it has not been studied.’

Meanwhile, Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor at the Department of Respiratory Sciences at the University of Leicester, said the speed of Mr Johnson’s recovery would be largely dictated by his overall health. 

The PM was effectively ‘stepped down’ from ICU and then allowed to go to Chequers but there are fears a lack of rest could result in him having to be ‘stepped up’ again. 

Some ministers believe Dominic Raab, pictured in Whitehall today, can make the decision on extending lockdown and that Mr Johnson should focus on resting 

Dr Tang said: ‘There have been patients who later had to be stepped back up to intensive care again.’   

Mr Johnson said in a video statement released after he left hospital yesterday that the NHS ‘has saved my life, no question’.   

The PM said he believed ‘things could have gone either way’ for him as he praised the nurses and doctors who treated him. 

‘We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country,’ he said of the nation’s ongoing coronavirus battle.  

‘It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.’ 

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