PM Johnson up and walking in COVID-19 recovery as UK deaths near 9,000

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson was back on his feet in his recovery from COVID-19 on Friday as Britain recorded its deadliest day yet in the coronavirus pandemic, with 980 more deaths taking the country’s overall toll to nearly 9,000.

The rise in deaths, which even exceeded the deadliest day reported so far in Italy, the country worst hit by the virus, comes as the government told Britons to obey a lockdown and resist going out in the spring sunshine over Easter.

“However warm the weather, however tempting your local beach or park, we need everyone to stay at home because in hospitals across the country NHS staff are battling day and night to keep desperately sick people breathing,” health minister Matt Hancock told a news conference.

One person the National Health Service (NHS) is treating is Prime Minister Johnson, who emerged from three nights of intensive care on Thursday after entering hospital on Sunday as his symptoms of COVID-19 persisted.

The prime minister, 55, who needed oxygen support, was now able to take short walks between periods of rest, as part of the his recovery, which his office said was at an early stage.

“I was told he was waving his thanks to all of the nurses and doctors he saw as he was moved from the intensive care unit back to the ward,” his spokesman said. “The hospital said that he was in extremely good spirits last night.”

Johnson was the first world leader to be hospitalised with the coronavirus, forcing him to hand control to foreign minister Dominic Raab just as Britain’s coronavirus outbreak worsened drastically.