Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom’s prime minister, has revealed that the British government made contingency plans for his death as his condition deteriorated while battling COVID-19 in hospital last month.
In an interview with The Sun newspaper on Sunday, Johnson said doctors gave him “litres and litres of oxygen” to keep him alive.
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Johnson, 55, returned to work on Monday, a month after testing positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
He spent 10 days in isolation in Downing Street from late March, but was then was taken to London’s St Thomas’ Hospital where he received oxygen treatment and spent three nights in intensive care.
“They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario,” Johnson told The Sun. “It was a tough old moment; I won’t deny it.”
He added: “I was not in particularly brilliant shape, and I was aware there were contingency plans in place.”
After Johnson was discharged, St Thomas’ said it was glad to have cared for the prime minister, but the hospital has given no details about the gravity of his illness beyond stating that he was treated in intensive care.
Johnson and his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, on Saturday announced the name of their newly born son as Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas, partly as a tribute to two of the intensive care doctors who they said had saved Johnson’s life.
“The doctors had all sorts of arrangements for what to do if things went badly wrong,” Johnson said of his COVID-19 battle. “The bloody indicators kept going in the wrong direction.”
He said doctors discussed invasive ventilation.
“The bad moment came when it was 50-50 whether they were going to have to put a tube down my windpipe,” he said.
“That was when it got a bit … they were starting to think about how to handle it presentationally.”
Johnson described feeling “frustrated” as his health worsened and became emotional as he described the ordeal, according to The Sun.
He put down his recovery to “wonderful, wonderful nursing”, adding: “it was an extraordinary thing”.
The experience made him more determined to fight the disease and get the country back to normal, Johnson said, adding that he would announce a “roadmap” towards easing the lockdown restrictions imposed in late March later this week.
The prime minister’s comments came as the government announced 621 more deaths in the outbreak, taking the overall cumulative toll to 28,131 – just behind Europe’s worst-hit country, Italy.