April 24, 2020
By Alistair Smout
LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in ‘incredible’ shape after falling gravely ill with COVID-19, U.S. President Donald Trump said, as speculation mounted that the British leader is preparing to return to work to decide how to lift the lockdown.
Johnson, 55, spent three nights in intensive care at a London hospital earlier this month with COVID-19 complications for which he was treated with oxygen. He later said he owed his life to the hospital staff.
“He sounded incredible,” Trump said of how Johnson sounded on a call earlier this week. “He was ready to go.”
“It’s like the old Boris,” Trump said. “He’s doing great.”
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Johnson is planning to return to work as early as Monday, and his health minister, Matt Hancock, said the prime minister was getting better and in good spirits.
“That decision is for the prime minister in consultation with his doctors,” Hancock said. “I spoke to him yesterday, he’s on very good form and is clearly recovering.”
When he returns to work, Johnson will have to decide when and how to lift the coronavirus lockdown that has hammered the British economy and sent government borrowing to the highest levels in peacetime history.
The government’s as yet unpublished strategy for unwinding from the lockdown is under scrutiny as investors try to work out which major economy will be worst hit by the most severe public health crisis since the 1918 influenza outbreak.
Hancock said on Friday that it was too early to lift the lockdown.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Costas Pitas; Editing by Alistair Smout and Michael Holden)