News World Boris Johnson releases thank you message as coronavirus death toll passes 10,000 mark
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Boris Johnson releases thank you message as coronavirus death toll passes 10,000 mark

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The British government has defended Boris Johnson's decision to skip emergency meetings early in the coronavirus crisis. Photo: AAP
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Boris Johnson has singled out the efforts of two nurses who helped save his life during his treatment for the coronavirus, saying it “could have gone either way”.

His comments come after the United Kingdom’s coronavirus death toll rose by 737 in 24 hours, pushing the total number of fatalities past 10,000.

After spending a week in London’s St Thomas’ hospital, three days of which were in intensive care, the prime minister said he witnessed firsthand “the pressure the NHS [National Health Service] is under”.

Speaking in a video message posted on Twitter on Monday morning (Australian time) – just hours after being discharged – Mr Johnson thanked the doctors he said “took some crucial decisions” that saved his life.

He mentioned by name several nurses who had watched over him all night to ensure he kept breathing.

“And I hope they won’t mind if I mention in particular two nurses who stood by my bedside for 48 hours when things could have gone either way,” the PM said.

“They are Jenny from New Zealand – Invercargill on the South Island, to be exact – and Luis from Portugal, near Porto.

“And the reason in the end my body did start to get enough oxygen was because for every second of the night they were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed.”

He thanked everyone in Britain for their “sacrifice” while following social distancing guidelines, noting how hard it must be to stay indoors “while the whole natural world seems as its loveliest and the outdoors is so inviting”. 

The PM is recovering at his country residence Chequers, in Aylesbury. Photo: Getty

“I want you to know that this Easter Sunday I do believe that your efforts are worth it,” Mr Johnson said.

“Because although we mourn every day those who are taken from us in such numbers and though the struggle is by no means over we are now making progress in this incredible national battle against coronavirus.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will continue to deputise for Mr Johnson who is recovering at his 16th-century country residence called Chequers.

UK death toll jumps

The coronavirus death toll has risen to 10,612 across hospitals in the UK after a recorded daily rise of 737, the health ministry said.

The two previous daily increase figures were both more than 900.

On previous weekends since the outbreak began, figures have dipped, which can reflect longer delays in registering deaths.

The UK has recorded 85,175 cases of COVID-19, according to the latest count by Johns Hopkins University.

According to the Wellcome Trust, Britain could be “one of the worst, if not the worst affected country in Europe,” with its director Jeremy Farrar telling the BBC that government experts were expecting a second and third wave of infections.

-with AAP