British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to return to his post on Monday to lead the UK response to the Covid-19 outbreak after he was admitted to hospital with the disease this month.
He spent three nights in intensive care and was described by a Downing Street official as “raring to go”. “The PM has been doing all the right things and following his doctor’s advice to come back to work,” the official said.
Mr Johnson returns at a critical moment for Britain. On Saturday, the government announced the country’s coronavirus death toll from the disease passed 20,000, the fifth highest number of fatalities from the virus in the world.
With his Cabinet divided about whether to relax lockdown measures and his government facing fierce criticism for not introducing restrictions sooner, Mr Johnson has his work cut out for him.
Britain’s economy has been paralysed by the Covid-19 outbreak. However, Mr Johnson has faced questions about how prepared the country’s National Health Service was to cope with the outbreak, as well as his government’s laissez-faire attitude at the start of the pandemic.
During Mr Johnson’s recovery, UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab took the reins to lead the country’s response.
But without a clear road map for exiting the lockdown, the government was accused of being rudderless during Mr Johnson’s absence.
While recovering in his country residence at Chequers, Mr Johnson eased back into the business of government, holding daily video calls with Mr Raab and his Downing Street team and speaking to medical advisers Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.
Mr Johnson said he would be cautious about lifting social-distancing measures as he was concerned it could risk a second wave of infections at a time when daily cases have levelled off and deaths have started to decline.