Boris Johnson’s father has spoken of his relief after the prime minister was moved from intensive care where he was being treated for Covid-19.
Stanley Johnson said 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”.
In a statement, Downing Street announced on Thursday evening that 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 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 suffered 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 wood 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..”
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.”