LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work Monday, appearing in public for the first time in three weeks since recovering from a bout of coronavirus that landed him in intensive care.
Standing outside his central London office and residence at No. 10 Downing Street, Britain's leader apologized for being "away from my desk for much longer than I would've liked" and said the country was on the brink of victory in the first phase of its fight with COVID-19 even if it was too early to end Britain's five-week national lockdown.
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"If we can show the same spirit of unity and determination as we have all shown in the past six weeks, then I have absolutely no doubt that we will beat it, together we will come through it all the faster and the United Kingdom will emerge stronger than ever before," Johnson said, describing coronavirus as an "unexpected and invisible mugger we have begun to wrestle to the floor. Johnson thanked Britons for their "sheer grit and guts" and said the nation needs to keep going. He called for "optimism and energy."
He said Britain was at a moment of maximum risk in its outbreak and he urged people not to lose patience with the lockdown. "It is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war and I in no way minimize the continuing problems we face and yet it is also true that we are making progress," Johnson said.
Johnson, 55, is the first major world leader known to have contracted coronavirus – and now also to have beaten it. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and hospitalized 10 days later. He spent several days in an intensive care unit.