Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Get Well Soon cards sent in by children while he was ill with COVID-19.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Get Well Soon cards sent in by children while he was ill with COVID-19.
PIC: AFP

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed for the first time on Sunday that there were "contingency plans" in place in case things went "badly wrong" and he died during his treatment for COVID-19 in a hospital here last month.

The 55-year-old leader, who returned to work at 10 Downing Street after his recovery last week, told 'The Sun On Sunday' that he was given "litres and litres of oxygen" after going into intensive care at St Thomas' Hospital on April 7.

"It was a tough old moment, I won't deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a 'death of Stalin'-type scenario," he told the newspaper.

"I was not in particularly brilliant shape and I was aware there were contingency plans in place.

The doctors had all sorts of arrangements for what to do if things went badly wrong. They gave me a face mask so I got litres and litres of oxygen and for a long time I had that and the little nose jobbie," he said as the country reported over 28,000 deaths due to the coronavirus outbreak as on Saturday.

The interview comes a day after his fiancée Carrie Symonds shared a picture on Instagram with the couple's newborn son, who they have named Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson - with the name Nicholas chosen in a nod to the two doctors who saved the British premier's life.

Johnson admitted that he was "in denial" about how serious his condition was after testing positive for coronavirus and that he really did not want to go to hospital.

"I said I really didn't want to go into hospital. It didn't seem to me to be a good move but they were pretty adamant. Looking back, they were right to force me to go," he said.

"It was hard to believe that in just a few days my health had deteriorated to this extent. I remember feeling frustrated. I couldn't understand why I wasn't getting better," he said during an emotional interview from the Downing Street.

"But the bad moment came when it was 50-50 whether they were going to have to put a tube down my windpipe. That was when it got a bit. they were starting to think about how to handle it presentationally." In reference to his time in intensive care, he added: "Because the bloody indicators kept going in the wrong direction and I thought, 'There's no medicine for this thing and there's no cure'. That was the stage when I was thinking, 'How am I going to get out of this?'" Johnson admits he was coming to terms - probably for the first time - with his own mortality. He had been in hospital several times before, usually with rugby injuries, but nothing quite like this.

He said: "I've broken my nose, I've broken my finger, I've broken my wrist, I've broken my rib. I've broken just about everything. I've broken all sorts of things, several times in some cases. But I've never had anything as serious as this." Johnson had been diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and was admitted to the hospital 10 days later. The following day, he was moved to intensive care.

He said his recovery was due to the "wonderful, wonderful nursing" and felt "lucky" to have come out of the deadly disease, given so many others were still suffering.

"And so if you ask me, 'Am I driven by a desire to stop other people suffering?' Yes, I absolutely am. But I am also driven by an overwhelming desire to get our country as a whole back on its feet, healthy again, going forward in a way that we can and I'm very confident we'll get there," he said.

The prime minister is expected to unveil the UK's approach to tackling "phase two" of the virus now the peak of infections has passed and lay out a "comprehensive" plan for unlocking the economy.

So far, over 28,000 COVID-19 related deaths have been registered in hospitals and the wider community across the UK, which remains under strict social distancing lockdown measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

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