Boris Johnson is ‘preparing to return to work on Monday’ to take control of the coronavirus crisis

Boris Johnson is planning to return to work on Monday to take control of the response to the coronavirus crisis.

The Prime Minister has been recovering at his countryside retreat in Chequers after being discharged from hospital earlier this month.

Mr Johnson – who spent three days in the ICU – has told his aides to set up meetings with cabinet ministers next week to get him up to speed, as reported by The Telegraph. 

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.

The Prime Minister has been recovering at his countryside retreat in Chequers after being discharged from hospital earlier the month

The Prime Minister has been recovering at his countryside retreat in Chequers after being discharged from hospital earlier the month

The Prime Minister has been recovering at his countryside retreat in Chequers after being discharged from hospital earlier the month

‘The fact that he had a telephone audience with the Queen on Wednesday night shows you that he considers himself to be fit for duty.’

Boris Johnson was well enough to hold his regular audience with the Queen last night, Downing Street confirmed today.

And the Prime Minister has been getting regular updates from his aides while recuperating.  

Last night Donald Trump revealed some of the details of his call with Boris Johnson on Tuesday, saying he sounded ‘sharp and energetic’.

At a press briefing on Covid-19 the US President said:  ‘He [Boris] called me a few days ago. I will tell you he sounded incredible.’

Donald Trump last night revealed some of the details of his call with Boris Johnson on Tuesday, indicating he may be on the mend.

Donald Trump last night revealed some of the details of his call with Boris Johnson on Tuesday, indicating he may be on the mend.

Donald Trump last night revealed some of the details of his call with Boris Johnson on Tuesday, indicating he may be on the mend.

Mr Johnson - who spent three days in the ICU - has told his aides to set up meetings with cabinet ministers next week to get him up to speed. Pictured: Chequers where the PM is recovering from coronavirus

Mr Johnson - who spent three days in the ICU - has told his aides to set up meetings with cabinet ministers next week to get him up to speed. Pictured: Chequers where the PM is recovering from coronavirus

Mr Johnson – who spent three days in the ICU – has told his aides to set up meetings with cabinet ministers next week to get him up to speed. Pictured: Chequers where the PM is recovering from coronavirus

‘I was actually surprised. I thought he’d be like ‘Oh Donald, how are you?’. He was ready to go. I’m very surprised to tell you. It’s like the old Boris, tremendous energy, tremendous drive.

‘I was very surprised because he called me, almost you know, pretty close to when he got out of the hospital.

‘I think he’s doing great, I think he’s doing great. He was so sharp and energetic, pretty incredible, he’s an incredible guy.

‘He’s a friend of ours and a friend of mine. He loves our country, he loves his country a lot, but he loves our country, he respects our country and they’re lucky to have him over there.’

It comes on another day of coronavirus developments:

  • The UK’s daily coronavirus death toll in hospitals fell to 616, down from 861 a week earlier; 
  •  Shocking data revealed nearly one in four companies has stopped trading; 
  •  Senior Tories warned that the restrictions are ‘crucifying’ business and must start being relaxed in the next fortnight; 
  •  Chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance said the epidemic was ‘heading in the right direction’ as figures showed hospital admissions with the virus down 10 per cent in a week; 
  •  Some firms started to return to normal, with B&Q reopening 155 of its stores; 
  •  Heathrow’s boss is writing to Mr Hancock to demand mass screenings of passengers arriving on flights into the UK; 
  •  Nearly three quarters of NHS workers who have died from coronavirus were from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, figures showed; 
  •  Two volunteers were injected with a possible vaccine as the first human trial in Europe got under way in Oxford. 

 Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, has been in charge of the Government since Mr Johnson was admitted to hospital at the start of the month.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters last night: ‘The Prime minister spoke with the First Secretary of State yesterday and he had an audience with Her Majesty the Queen by telephone last night.  

Pressed on the PM’s condition, he added: ‘He has spoken with No 10 staff and with the First Secretary of State and he has had a call with the US president and with Her Majesty the Queen.

‘He is being sent regular updates on government business but it is still the case that he is not doing government work.’  

Despite indications Mr Johnson is getting better a picture of him participating in the Clap for Carers at 8pm on Thursday was not released.

Department of Health figures show 22,000 tests were carried out in the UK on Tuesday, despite the Government having capacity to do more than 51,000

Department of Health figures show 22,000 tests were carried out in the UK on Tuesday, despite the Government having capacity to do more than 51,000

Department of Health figures show 22,000 tests were carried out in the UK on Tuesday, despite the Government having capacity to do more than 51,000

But officials confirmed he did take part in the tribute to key workers with his fiancee Carrie Symonds while at Chequers.

It come as ten million key workers and their families were last night offered the chance to have coronavirus tests. Matt Hancock said essential staff such as teachers and bus drivers could be tested if they or anyone in their household showed symptoms. 

As the Government finally put testing at the heart of its virus strategy, the Health Secretary also revealed that troops have been called in to ensure key workers who need tests can get them. 

The move is part of a frantic final push to hit his 100,000-a-day testing pledge by the end of this month. Mr Hancock said it was part of a new ‘test, track and trace’ strategy that would eventually ‘get Britain back on her feet’. 

An army of 18,000 official ‘trackers’ is being recruited to trace all contacts of everyone who tests positive in the hope of stopping a deadly second wave. 

There are 31 testing centres around the country which will be used to swab essential workers and their family members. They have the capacity to more than 51,000 tests per day, the Government says

There are 31 testing centres around the country which will be used to swab essential workers and their family members. They have the capacity to more than 51,000 tests per day, the Government says

People offered a coronavirus test will be directed to one of 31 drive-through centres around the UK where they will be swabbed and sent home before receiving their results by text in the following days

People offered a coronavirus test will be directed to one of 31 drive-through centres around the UK where they will be swabbed and sent home before receiving their results by text in the following days

There are 31 testing centres around the country which will be used to swab essential workers and their family members. They have the capacity to more than 51,000 tests per day, the Government says

Mr Hancock yesterday said testing capacity had topped 50,000 and was ‘ahead’ of the level needed to hit the target. 

But Downing Street admitted there was ‘a great deal more to do’. With less than a week to go until the April 30 deadline, the latest figures showed that just 22,814 tests were conducted on Tuesday – less than a quarter of the number promised. 

The number of individuals tested was even lower at just 13,522, with many needing to be tested more than once. 

The move came as: 

Mr Hancock last night widened testing eligibility for the second time in a week to include all designated ‘key workers’ and their families in England. 

The move means that tests reserved until recently for coronavirus patients and the emergency services will now be on offer to millions more essential workers. 

These include teachers, prison officers, border guards, transport staff, bin men and other key council staff. 

Other key workers are power station staff, supermarket workers and delivery drivers, telecoms staff and some bank workers and journalists. Government sources said ten million key workers – as well as their families – now be eligible for tests if they or household members were displaying symptoms. 

From today, those eligible will be able to book their own appointment online through the Gov.UK website, and potentially even have the testing kit sent to their home. 

Speaking at the daily press conference in Downing Street, Mr Hancock said the ‘ultimate goal’ was to offer the test to any member of the public who develops classic virus symptoms such as a high temperature and cough.

The promise to carry out 100,000 tests a day was made by Mr Hancock at the start of this month following a campaign to increase testing led by the Daily Mail. 

In a further push to avoid an embarrassing failure to hit the target, ministers have also called in the Army and Amazon to distribute the tests. 

Yesterday, the first of 48 new mobile testing labs designed by the military were put into use in Teesside, Salford and the Isle of Wight. 

The ‘pop-up’ facilities will carry out testing at care homes initially, and could eventually carry out tests in supermarket car parks. 

Amazon’s delivery network has also been enlisted to help supply testing kits to care homes whose staff have been unable to get to drive-through sites. 

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and testing tsar John Newton both appeared to muddy the waters yesterday by suggesting ministers should be judged on their success in improving capacity to perform tests. 

But Downing Street confirmed Mr Hancock’s pledge, which came in response to criticism of the UK’s dismal record on testing, requires the Government to be actually carrying out 100,000 a day by next Thursday. 

Setting out the broad principles of the Government’s exit strategy, the Health Secretary said testing and tracing would be ‘vital’ in preventing a second wave of the virus, which he said would both cost lives and damage the economy. 

But he said the number of cases first had to be brought ‘right down’ to a manageable level. 

Health bosses are recruiting 18,000 people – including 3,000 clinicians and at least 10,000 call centre staff – to conduct a major ‘contact tracing’ project starting within weeks. 

The Department of Health is in negotiation with commercial call centres to staff the programme, seen as a crucial ‘safety net’ to allow the easing of lockdown measures without a second spike. 

Council environmental health officers, civil servants and hundreds of Public Health England experts will also join the effort to carry out one of the biggest communications exercises ever conducted. 

In total up to 20,000 staff will take part in the first phase of the operation – a number that is expected to be ramped up as lockdown measures are eased further. 

In comparison, just 290 people ran Public Health England’s contact tracing programme in the UK’s initial ‘contain’ phase of the coronavirus epidemic, before it was abandoned in the middle of March. 

In future, anyone who has symptoms will be able to order a swab test from a government website. 

This will be sent to people’s homes and they will return them to a lab via the post for processing. A positive testing result will trigger a call from the contact tracing team, who will ask detailed questions about the patient’s movements in the previous days. 

Each person they have been in touch with will then be phoned and their exposure determined – and if they are at risk they will themselves be asked to isolate for a fortnight. 

If the programme is to stop cases spreading, the team will have to get in touch with at least 80 per cent of contacts within 24 hours, experts believe. 

A report by Imperial College London said last night that if all healthcare workers were tested, even if they were not showing symptoms, this could cut their contribution to the spread of the virus by up to a third. 

Weekly testing of NHS staff working in intensive care, infectious disease and respiratory medicine would require only 5,000 tests a day, researchers concluded. 

Professor Nicholas Grassly, from Imperial, said: ‘We find testing is most useful when targeted at highrisk groups such as healthcare and care home staff. ‘Regular screening in addition to testing of symptomatic individuals may prevent an additional 25 to 33 per cent of their contribution to transmission in hospital and the community.’

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