This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 31 May, 2020
Advertisement

Boris Johnson returns to Downing Street after recovering from Covid-19

Johnson arrived back in No 10 this evening.

Boris Johnson speaks at 10 Downing Street after being discharged from hospital in London
Boris Johnson speaks at 10 Downing Street after being discharged from hospital in London
Image: PA Images

BORIS JOHNSON IS back in Downing Street to take charge of the UK government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Johnson arrived back in No 10 this evening three weeks after he was hospitalised with the disease.

He returned to a growing chorus of calls from senior Tories to begin easing the lockdown amid mounting dismay at the damage it was causing to the economy.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted there could be no immediate relaxation, saying the outbreak was still at a “delicate and dangerous” stage.

Johnson – who has spent the past fortnight recuperating at his official country residence at Chequers – is expected to chair tomorrow morning’s meeting of the government’s Covid-19 “war cabinet”.

He prepared for his return with a “summit” of Friday with Raab, who has been deputising for him, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and senior aides.

Raab said the government would proceed “cautiously” in order to avoid a second peak in the outbreak.

“We are at a delicate and dangerous stage,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.

“We need to make sure that the next steps are sure-footed, which is why we are proceeding very cautiously and we are sticking to the scientific advice.”

He was backed by the NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis, who said while the number of patients in hospital with the disease was continuing to fall, it could easily pick back up if the restrictions were relaxed.

“My fear is that those curves won’t continue to be on a downward trend, but will start to go on an upward trend. We are not at a point where any of us can be absolutely confident that that’s not going to be the case,” he told the daily No 10 news conference.

“We need to remind ourselves that this has been a really tough four weeks and we don’t want to lose the benefits that have come from this. We need to keep going.”

His warning came at the end of a weekend which saw the coronavirus death toll in hospitals pass the 20,000 mark – with fears that many more have died in care homes, hospices or in the community.

According the latest official figures, a total of 20,732 patients had died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Saturday, up by 413 from the day before.

Lockdown pressure

Even before he was back in London, Johnson was facing calls from a series of wealthy Tory backers who have donated millions of pounds to the party to begin lifting the lockdown to allow the economy to start up again.

Financiers Michael Spencer and Peter Hargreaves, the banker Sir Henry Angest, Phones4u founder John Caudwell and restaurateur Richard Caring all told The Sunday Times they wanted to see some re-opening of the economy.

Steve Morgan, the former boss of the housebuilder Redrow, told the paper: “We’re actually in danger that the medicine – if you want to call the lockdown that – is more harmful than the cure.”

Raab, however, said that while the government had been doing its “homework” in readiness for the time when restrictions could be eased, he said they would have to remain for “some time” to come.

“We won’t just have this binary easing up of measures. We will end up moving to a new normal,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

He said it was “inconceivable” schools could re-open without measures in place to stop the spread of the disease, but said ministers were looking to ease restrictions on outdoor activities.

“We do want to look – when it is safe, when it is responsible – at ways to allow more outdoor activities to take place, but again we have got to have the evidence that that is a sure-footed step – doesn’t allow coronavirus to get a grip back on the country.”

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Press Association

Read next:

COMMENTS (47)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel