British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care at a London hospital and his condition has been improving.
"The Prime Minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery,” read a statement released Thursday by Downing Street officials. "He is in extremely good spirits.”
Mr. Johnson, 55, was moved to the intensive care unit of St Thomas’ Hospital on Monday, nearly two weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19 and became seriously ill. Several other senior government officials, including senior cabinet minister Michael Gove, have also been in self-isolation because of exposure to the virus.
The Prime Minister’s absence comes at a critical time for the government. The number of confirmed cases in Britain climbed above 60,000 and the death toll hit 7,097. While both numbers have been rising, the growth rate has slowed and there are signs the outbreak could be peaking.
The government must now consider whether to ease the lockdown Mr. Johnson imposed two weeks ago to stop the spread of the virus. Schools, shops, restaurants and pubs have been closed and excursions outside the home have been limited.
The restrictions are supposed to be reviewed in the coming days but, on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has taken over some of Mr. Johnson’s duties, said the measures would likely be extended.
“The early signs suggest they are having an impact,” Mr. Raab told reporters. But he added that it was too early to judge whether the increase in cases has plateaued. The lockdown will have to stay in place "until we have got evidence that shows we have moved beyond the peak,” he added. "We mustn’t give the coronavirus a second chance to kill more people. I know it is tough going but this is a team effort.”
The government is expected to make a final decision on how long to extend the lockdown next week.
Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe.