Boris Johnson is beginning his road to recovery from coronavirus at his Chequers country estate today as the Cabinet is divided on when the Prime Minister should return to work.
Mr Johnson was released from hospital yesterday and was taken to his grace and favour home in Buckinghamshire where he is under strict doctors’ orders to rest.
But some senior ministers are already said to be pushing for the PM to be involved in the decision – expected on Thursday – on whether the UK’s lockdown will be extended.
An extension of the social distancing restrictions is viewed as a formality but the duration is still up for discussion with some adamant it must be Mr Johnson’s decision.
However, medical experts have warned the PM must not return to work too soon or he could risk a relapse while some MPs have expressed concerns about asking someone who has only just come out of intensive care to make major decisions, insisting he must be ‘firing on all cylinders’ when he does come back.
Boris Johnson, pictured delivering his Easter message yesterday after he was released from hospital, is now recovering at his Chequers country estate
Mr Johnson is under strict doctors’ orders to rest at the PM’s grace and favour Buckinghamshire home
Boris Johnson’s road to recovery
The Prime Minister was moved from an intensive care unit back to a ward on Thursday night last week, spending two and a half more days at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London before he was allowed to leave yesterday.
He is now at his Chequers country estate to continue his recovery.
Number 10 has stressed that Mr Johnson is only just beginning his path back to full health and ministers have warned it may take weeks before he is back in action.
The NHS guidance on coronavirus states it ‘may take time’ for patients who have been in ICU to return to their ‘normal self’ and there may be ‘lingering problems’.
Going back to a normal hospital ward is a ‘big step’ on the road to recovery so the fact Mr Johnson has now been allowed to leave the hospital is a positive sign.
Data collated by NHS hospitals in England shows that around half of Covid-19 patients who get admitted into intensive care die.
The most recent report – based on data from almost 2,300 patients – showed that 346 had died and 344 were discharged with the rest still being treated.
Survival odds are even bleaker for patients who need to be ventilated to keep their body functioning within the first 24 hours of arrival.
For example, figures suggest 70 per cent of patients in this critical position die, compared to 30 per cent who make it the first day without.
The PM did not need advanced respiratory support. Number 10 had said he was moved to ICU as a precaution.
Experts have said it is impossible to predict how long it will take Mr Johnson to get back to normal health.
A decision on extending the state of lockdown is due to be taken by the end of this week with the current measures now having been in place for almost three weeks.
The lockdown has hobbled the UK economy and that is why some ministers believe it must be Mr Johnson who signs off on what happens next by dialling into discussions later on this week.
One Cabinet source told The Telegraph: ‘The prime minister has to take that decision.
‘Any lockdown will have huge implications, and the PM will be responsible for it, so he’s got to be the one taking that decision.’
However, not everyone in the Cabinet agrees.
Some ministers are of the view that First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Mr Johnson, can take the decision without involving the PM.
A source said: ‘I don’t think the Cabinet wants to be pulling the prime minister out of his recovery and risking him getting worse.’
A new study has shown the majority of patients admitted to intensive care suffer long-term physical and mental health problems.
Research conducted in the Netherlands found that seven in 10 ICU survivors end up with intensive care syndrome which can include fatigue, frailty, anxiety or difficulty holding a conversation.
Scientists believe the findings are likely to apply to critically ill coronavirus patients.
A senior Tory MP questioned the wisdom of the PM potentially being involved in big decisions so soon after his ICU battle.
The MP told MailOnline: ‘There is a concern about that and I think that he has got to listen to medical advice.
‘But subject to him listening to that medical advice I am pretty sure he will want to be the one to make that decision.
‘Every report I have read from survivors indicates that it knocks them about tremendously so he does have to watch his own health.’
The MP added: ‘Irrespective of what the medics say he will probably want to be involved in that decision and to give the sign off on it. I think he understands the buck stops with him.’
Meanwhile, Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke told MailOnline those demanding Mr Johnson set a timetable for coming back needed to ‘grow up’ as he said the PM needs to be ‘firing on all cylinders’ before returning full time.
‘I am just concerned that the PM takes the time he needs to recover,’ he said.
‘At the end of the day we now know he has been very, very seriously ill. He said himself it could have gone one way or the other.
‘He doesn’t need to rush back. He has got the entire support of the country behind him. People recognise how serious it was, how hard he was working.’
The Conservative Party vice-chairman added that Mr Johnson should be taking it easy for ‘at least a couple of weeks’.
‘I think politicians who say ‘’what’s going on’’ – almost pushing the pressure for him to come back – need to grow up a bit because the public want him to make a full recovery,’ Mr Shelbrooke added.
‘I don’t want to see him rush back into things. I want to make sure he’s OK.’
Experts have said it is impossible to predict with any degree of certainty how quickly the PM could make a full recovery.
Some ministers believe Dominic Raab, pictured in Whitehall today, can make the decision on extending lockdown and that Mr Johnson should focus on resting
Duncan Young, professor of intensive care medicine at Oxford University, told The Times: ‘No one knows how long it takes to fully recover from Covid-19 infections because as yet it has not been studied.’
Meanwhile, Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor at the Department of Respiratory Sciences at the University of Leicester, said the speed of Mr Johnson’s recovery would be largely dictated by his overall health.
The PM was effectively ‘stepped down’ from ICU and then allowed to go to Chequers but there are fears a lack of rest could result in him having to be ‘stepped up’ again.
Dr Tang said: ‘There have been patients who later had to be stepped back up to intensive care again.’
Mr Johnson said in a video statement released after he left hospital yesterday that the NHS ‘has saved my life, no question’.
The PM said he believed ‘things could have gone either way’ for him as he praised the nurses and doctors who treated him.
‘We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country,’ he said of the nation’s ongoing coronavirus battle.
‘It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.’