Boris Johnson has been discharged from hospital. After being moved out of intensive care on Thursday, the Prime Minister is now well enough to leave hospital to begin his recovery at Chequers. A No. 10 spokesman said:
“The PM has been discharged from hospital to continue his recovery, at Chequers. 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. All of his thoughts are with those affected by this illness.
On the release of the news, Johnson's fiance Carrie Symonds took to social media to thank NHS staff. She said 'there were times last week that were very dark indeed'.
Johnson will not return to work yet – and there is little expectation of him doing so in the near future. After his symptoms persisted and escalated while he tried to work while ill, those around him are adamant that this time around he must take proper time out. This means that for the time being Dominic Raab – the First Secretary of State and de facto deputy – will continue to chair meetings with ministers and lead the government in Johnson's absence. There is talk among Johnson allies of a phased return to work for the Prime Minister.
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) April 12, 2020
It is hard to find the words to express my debt to the NHS for saving my life.The efforts of millions of people across this country to stay home are worth it. Together we will overcome this challenge, as we have overcome so many challenges in the past. #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/HK7Ch8BMB5
The structures are already in place – through the coronavirus subcommittees chaired by Raab, Matt Hancock, Michael Gove and Rishi Sunak – for the day-to-day running of the government response. All ministers are currently working to the plan set out by Johnson prior to his illness of 'stay home, protect the NHS, save lives' – with efforts focussed on social distancing and the preparedness of the NHS.
Where a new strategy will be required is on the eventual exit strategy. Although no one in government wants to talk publicly about a way out of lockdown, preliminary discussions have begun with the Treasury and Department for Health – with some help from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – tasked with working together to model various scenarios in relation to the lockdown. However, the view among ministers is that it is for Johnson to make the final call on any such decision. The hope is that by the time such a call has to be made the Prime Minister will be able to be consulted – even if he does so remotely.