Boris Johnson 'catching up with ministers ahead of government return' after coronavirus battle

23 April 2020, 22:53

Boris Johnson is reportedly starting work on Monday after his battle with coronavirus
Boris Johnson is reportedly starting work on Monday after his battle with coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Prime Minister is said to be in talks with ministers ahead of his return to Downing Street following his battle with coronavirus.

Boris Johnson has been largely absent from government for a number of weeks after testing positive for the virus over a month ago.

According to The Telegraph, Mr Johnson is said to have already been working this week, and had an audience with the Queen over the phone on Wednesday.

A source told the newspaper: “He’s not the sort of person who is very good at doing nothing. In truth, he has been working pretty much full time for the past week."

There has been no formal date put in place for his official return, and government sources have told LBC News Mr Johnson is still following doctor's advice.

Mr Johnson is already known to have been in talks with US President Donald Trump this week, and told him he was "on the road to recovery".

On 5 April, Mr Johnson was then taken to St Thomas's Hospital in London for treatment, where he then needed three nights in an intensive care unit after experiencing trouble breathing.

First Secretary Dominic Raab has been standing in the place of the Prime Minister during Mr Johnson's absence
First Secretary Dominic Raab has been standing in the place of the Prime Minister during Mr Johnson's absence. Picture: PA

In his absence, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was named First Secretary, and has been acting in the place of Mr Johnson.

Since his release from hospital on 12 April, Mr Johnson has been recuperating at his country retreat of Chequers, with his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds.

He has since publicly thanked the nurses, who he credits with "saving his life".

One of the two nurses praised by Mr Johnson for their care during his treatment in St Thomas' Hospital has spoken of his pride after the Prime Minister thanked him for saving his life.

Critical care nurse Luis Pitarma, 29, from west London but originally from Aveiro in Portugal, said he had also been thanked by Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, adding: "Apparently I'm a celebrity in Portugal now."

Mr Johnson was last seen in public clapping for the NHS at the beginning of the month
Mr Johnson was last seen in public clapping for the NHS at the beginning of the month. Picture: PA

Mr Pitarma, who has worked at St Thomas' for nearly four years, said: "I was changing into scrubs before my night shift when the matron called me over and told me the Prime Minister was about to come to ICU. I had been chosen to look after him because they were confident I would cope with the situation well.

"I felt nervous at first - he was the Prime Minister. The responsibility I was going to hold in my hands was quite overwhelming. I didn't really know how to address him - should I call him Boris, Mr Johnson or Prime Minister? My matron reassured me and said to be myself like I am with any other patient.

"I asked how he would like to be addressed and he said to call him Boris. That made me feel less nervous because he took away any formality. He just wanted to be looked after like anyone else."

Mr Pitarma added: "I was by his side for the three nights he was in ICU. We had some conversations, including about where I was from. I told him how I'd dreamed about working at St Thomas' since my first day of training in Portugal in 2009, when I learned about Florence Nightingale and her connection to the hospital."

Mr Pitarma said he was delighted when the Prime Minister thanked him in person before leaving intensive care.

He said: "He thanked me for saving his life. I felt extremely proud for someone like him to recognise the quality of the job I'd done. I was very happy with his words, they were very kind.

"I hope I can meet him again one day when he is fully recovered."

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