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Prime Minister Johnson set to return to office

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street, from St Thomas’ Hospital. Photo/ AFP.

Boris Johnson will return to work at the start of the week as pressure increases on the UK government over its handling of the coronavirus crisis which has claimed more than 20,000 lives.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News that Johnson would be back in his Downing Street office on Monday after recovering from the virus and was in “good spirits” and “raring to go”.

Johnson has been recuperating at the British prime ministerial retreat, Chequers, outside London since his release from hospital on April 12.

He spent three days in intensive care and later admitted “things could have gone either way.”

Raab on Sunday resisted growing calls for the government to relax strict social distancing rules and said they would “be with us for some time”.

He told the BBC: “We do want to look at when it’s safe, when it’s responsible, at ways to allow more outside activities to take place but, again, we have got to have the evidence that it’s a surefooted step and doesn’t allow the coronavirus to get a grip back on the country.”

Johnson ordered the country into lockdown on March 23. It was extended on April 16 and is due for review on May 7.

On Sunday, new Labour leader Keir Starmer wrote to the prime minister asking for details on any potential lifting of restrictions.

He accused the government of making “mistakes” at the beginning of the crisis and added: “The government cannot fall short in its preparations for what happens when the time is right for lockdown measures to be lifted.”

The prime minister’s return to work comes after health department figures released Saturday showed a further 813 people had died in hospital after contracting COVID-19, pushing the official number of fatalities to 20,319.

The latest figures confirm Britain has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world and the actual toll could be much higher when deaths in the community are taken into account, particularly at care homes.

AFP

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