Boris Johnson COVID 19
In this handout photo provided by Number 10 Downing Street, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs the morning Covid-19 Meeting remotely after self isolating after testing positive for the coronavirus, at 10 Downing Street, London, Saturday, March 28, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. Image Credit: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street via AP

London:  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital on Sunday, a Downing Street spokesman said, a week after being admitted for treatment for coronavirus and spending three days in intensive care.

Johnson, 55, was taken to St Thomas' Hospital in central London on April 5, suffering from persistent symptoms of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. On April 6 he was moved into intensive care, where he remained until April 9.

There has been little public comment from officials into how ill Johnson has been, but his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds said on Sunday there had been times in the past week that had been "very dark indeed".

Johnson, who was admitted to the state-run central London hospital, voiced his gratitude to his carers there in a video he posted on his twitter account.

"I can't thank them enough. I owe them my life," he said in a first public statement since leaving intensive care.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "it could have gone either way" for him while he was in hospital being treated for COVID-19 last week.

"It is hard to find the words to express my debt to the NHS (National Health Service) for saving my life," he said in a video message posted on Twitter on Sunday, shortly after it was announced he had been discharged from St Thomas' hospital in London.

He thanked everyone in Britain for following social distancing guidelines and said he believed the efforts being made by the whole nation were worth it.

"The PM has been discharged from hospital to continue his recovery, at Chequers," the spokesman said, referring to the prime minister's country estate outside London.

"On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work."

Britain has reported two days in a row of hospital deaths increasing by more than 900 people. Friday's death toll of 980 surpassed the highest recorded in a single day in Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe so far.

The British government has had to defend its response, which has included carrying out far less testing than in some other European countries and ordering a lockdown that came comparatively late. Ministers have also resisted apologising for a shortage of protective gear for hospital staff.

In a sign of the gravity of the emergency, Queen Elizabeth issued her second rallying message in a week, telling the nation that "coronavirus will not overcome us".

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, delivered an Easter Sunday sermon from the kitchen of his London flat, recorded on his computer tablet.

"We do have a plan" 

Meanwhile, ministers were facing uncomfortable questions about whether the alarming rise in the death toll was due to the relatively late decision to impose a lockdown on March 23.

"Well, different countries have different cycles in terms of where they are in terms of the spread of this pandemic," business minister Alok Sharma told Sky News on Sunday when asked to explain the reason for the poor UK numbers.

Health minister Matt Hancock suggested during a BBC radio interview on Saturday that Britain's daily death toll had exceeded Italy's because it had a bigger population. The UK population is about 66 million while Italy's is 60 million.

When asked why Germany, with a population of about 83 million, had much lower numbers, he said: "The German situation is one I look at a lot." Ministers have insisted that the government took the right steps at the right time, guided by scientific advice.

NHS doctors and nurses across the country are complaining about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). About 20 frontline medical staff are reported to have died of the disease after treating patients.

Asked on Sunday whether he would apologise over the loss of life in the NHS and the lack of PPE, Sharma replied: "I said I was sorry for the loss of any life in this pandemic but we are facing an unprecedented situation.

"We do have a plan, we are putting that in place, we're making sure that there are millions of PPE kits going out to the frontline, and of course we need to be doing even more." The new leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, said the government should acknowledge failings more openly.

"I think it would be smart of the government to acknowledge that their ambition for the equipment to be where it should be ... isn't being matched and probably just apologise for that and get on with it," he told Sky News.