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British PM Boris Johnson discharged from hospital after COVID-19 treatment

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from hospital and will continue his recovery from COVID-19 at Chequers, his official country residence, Downing Street said in a statement on Sunday.

Johnson says he owes his life to hospital staff

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital on Sunday after spending a week in hospital with COVID-19. (Pippa Fowles/No 10 Downing Street/Reuters)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from hospital and will continue his recovery from COVID-19 at Chequers, his official country residence, Downing Street said in a statement on Sunday.

Johnson, 55, was taken to St Thomas' Hospital in central London last Sunday, suffering from persistent symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. On Monday he was moved into intensive care, where he remained until Thursday.

"On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work. He wishes to thank everybody at St Thomas' for the brilliant care he has received," an official statement said.

In his first comments since leaving intensive care, Johnson said he owed his life to National Health Service (NHS) hospital staff.

"I can't thank them enough. I owe them my life," he said in comments that were released to journalists and confirmed by his office on Sunday.

His pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who has also suffered from COVID-19 symptoms, thanked NHS staff in a series of tweets shortly after the Downing Street statement on Johnson being discharged.

"There were times last week that were very dark indeed. My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones," she said.

WATCH | Boris Johnson discharged from hospital after COVID-19 treatment:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is thanking health-care workers after being released from hospital. 2:29

There is no advice on how long that Johnson's recovery will take, health secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday.

Asked if there was any guidance on when the prime minister could return to work, Hancock told a news briefing: "He is resting. He's at Chequers, I'm delighted that he's out of hospital and he's recovered."

"There isn't any advice on how long. That will be a clinical decision for his doctors to take with him. The government is operating perfectly efficiently within the strategy that he set out."

While Johnson has been out of action, his ministers have come under pressure to explain why the national death toll is rising so fast.

Britain has reported two days in a row of hospital deaths increasing by more than 900 people. Friday's death toll of 980 surpassed the highest recorded in a single day in Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe so far.

NHS nurse takes a swab at a COVID-19 testing station at Manchester Airport. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

However, the NHS has not been overwhelmed by the pandemic and now has 2,295 spare critical care beds, Hancock said.

"Today marks a somber day in the impact of this disease as we join the list of countries who have seen more than 10,000 deaths related to coronavirus," he told a news briefing on Sunday.

"At the start of this crisis people said that the NHS would be overwhelmed. And we've seen the risk of that elsewhere but not here."

The British government has had to defend its response, which has included carrying out far less testing than in some other European countries and ordering a lockdown that came comparatively late. Ministers have also resisted apologizing for a shortage of protective gear for hospital staff.

In a sign of the gravity of the emergency, Queen Elizabeth issued her second rallying message in a week, telling the nation that "coronavirus will not overcome us."

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