Boris Johnson likely to feel like he’s been ‘hit by several buses’, expert claims

PUBLISHED: 16:18 10 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:18 10 April 2020

Boris Johnson attends a press conference at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire

Boris Johnson attends a press conference at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire

Boris Johnson is likely to feel as if he has been ‘hit by several buses’ and will need time to recover from the coronavirus, an expert has suggested.

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Dr Chris Smith, from the University of Cambridge, who is also presenter of the Naked Scientists podcast, said that he will need several weeks to recover from the illness.

Dr Smith told the PA news agency that Johnson is likely to be feeling “like he’s been hit by several buses”.

“Being severely unwell and sufficiently ill to warrant ITU admission really takes it out of you and leaves people weak and exhausted for a significant period of time afterwards,” he said.

However, as the PM is younger, was in good health, and had not needed to be put on a ventilator “he is likely to be able to bounce back more quickly”, Dr Smith said.


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He added: “It’ll still be a few weeks before he’s feeling like his old self though.”

Doctors and nurses will be aiming to get Johnson home as soon as possible, Dr Smith said.

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“To make this decision they’ll monitor respiratory function (and other vital signs) and, if he’s stable and continuing to improve (no evidence of ongoing infection, or other secondary infections) and not oxygen-dependent, including at night, then he’ll go home with instructions to take it easy for - at least - several weeks to recover,” he suggested.

Dr Smith added that it takes at least a week to recover for every day that someone has been in intensive care, and advice to patients includes staying active, eating and drinking well, and building up strength gradually.

Professor Duncan Young, an ICU consultant, said staff will be monitoring the PM’s need for oxygen, and assessing when he is able to go home.

He said: “My guess is he is now on a normal oxygen face mask. That’s the point when it is likely someone is discharged from ICU.

“As his need for additional oxygen goes down, the hospital staff will dial down the level of oxygen, and it will get to the point where he can breathe ordinary air. Staff will have to decide at that point whether it is safe for him to go home.”

As well as being able to breathe without added oxygen, doctors and nurses will be looking to see if Johnson is able to do things for himself, such as walk and eat.

Prof Young said it is “almost impossible to know” how long it will take for Johnson to resume his normal activities.

The PM was admitted to hospital last Sunday evening for tests due to suffering continuing symptoms of Covid-19, having tested positive for the virus 10 days earlier.

He now appears to be on the road to recovery.

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