Boris Johnson waved his thanks to medical staff as he was moved from the intensive care unit back to the ward, a Downing Street spokesman has said, as the prime minister began his recovery from Covid-19.
The prime minister, who was moved out of intensive care on Thursday evening, was said to be in good spirits on Friday, according to a No 10 spokesman. Johnson was “enormously grateful for the care he’s receiving,” the official added, saying “he was waving his thanks towards the nurses and doctors that he saw as he was being moved from the intensive care unit back to the ward”.
A No 10 spokesman added later on Friday: “The Prime Minister has been able to do short walks, between periods of rest, as part of the care he is receiving to aid his recovery.
“He has spoken to his doctors and thanks the whole clinical team for the incredible care he has received.
“His thoughts are with those affected by this terrible disease.”
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, told the daily briefing that Johnson’s condition continues to improve. “He wants to personally thank the whole clinical team at St Thomas’ for the incredible care he has received,” Hancock said.
The updates came after the prime minister’s father, Stanley, spoke of the improvement in his son’s condition, saying he was “amazingly thankful” for the efforts of the NHS and appreciative of the nation’s outpouring of support.
But he insisted his son – who is still being treated at St Thomas’ hospital in London – must rest, warning that he cannot get “straight back to Downing Street and pick up the reins”.
He added: “To use that American expression, he almost took one for the team. We have got to make sure we play the game properly now.”
There will be just one daily update about Johnson’s condition now he is out of intensive care, the spokesman said. Asked what contact Johnson had had with No 10, he added: “The PM is just beginning his recovery and he will be taking advice from his medical team.”
On Thursday evening, Downing Street said Johnson, 55, had been moved from intensive care back to the ward “where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery”. He was taken into hospital on Sunday after his coronavirus symptoms, including a cough and high temperature, persisted and he was moved to intensive care on Monday evening.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who has been deputising for the prime minister, earlier said Johnson was making “positive steps forward”.
Johnson’s pregnant fiancee, Carrie Symonds – who has also had a bout of suspected Covid-19 – responded to the news by posting a rainbow on Twitter and a series of clapping emojis to show support for the NHS.
On Friday morning Johnson’s 79-year-old father also issued thanks. “Relief is the right word,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding: “I feel tremendously grateful obviously on behalf of the family, Boris’s family, my family, family members all over the place, and also, of course, amazingly thankful as well. Thankful for the tremendous outpouring of which we have seen.”
But he warned his son must rest. “This is pretty straightforward now. He must rest up. As I understand it ... he has moved from the ICU into a recovery unit but I don’t think you can say this is out of the woods now,” he said.
“He has to take time. I cannot believe you can walk away from this and get straight back to Downing Street and pick up the reins without a period of readjustment.”
He also explained his son’s illness had highlighted the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I do think about this whole event of Boris going into intensive care, and now ... coming out, it has actually served an amazing purpose,” he said. “In a sense it’s got the whole country to realise this is a serious event. If it can hit the prime minister, for heaven’s sake, well it does come close to home.”