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Boris Johnson continues virus recovery as UK death toll nears 10,000

LONDON, United Kingdom – Prime Minister Boris Johnson was making "very good progress" on Saturday, April 11, in his recovery in hospital from coronavirus, officials said, as the number of deaths in Britain from the disease approached the grim milestone of 10,000.

The 55-year-old leader was spending his second full day out of intensive care at London's St Thomas' Hospital, where he has been able to take short walks between periods of rest, according to Downing Street. 

"The Prime Minister continues to make very good progress," a Downing Street spokeswoman said in a short statement.

He was hospitalized on Sunday over concerns he still had a cough and high temperature after spending 10 days in self-isolation with the virus. A day later he was transferred to the intensive care unit as his condition deteriorated.

Johnson left the unit on Thursday evening in "extremely good spirits" and waving at staff "in gratitude," his spokesman has said.

His time in hospital was unprecedented for a British prime minister during a national emergency in modern times, rattling the country.

Britain, which went into lockdown on March 23, continues to be hit hard, recording more than 900 daily COVID-19 deaths on Saturday for the second consecutive day.

The health ministry announced in its update that another 917 coronavirus hospital patients had died in the latest 24-hour period, down on Friday's toll but still the second highest yet. 

It brings the total number of coronavirus fatalities in British hospitals to 9,875, while the number of confirmed cases in the country climbed by 5,234 to 78,991.

That is thought to reflect only a fraction of the actual number of people infected because not everyone has been tested for the virus.

Despite Johnson's improving condition, it remains unclear when he might be discharged from hospital and how quickly he would return to work once out.

His spokesman stressed Friday that his recovery was "at an early stage" and he would act only "on the advice of his medical team".

The Sun tabloid reported that Johnson's spirits had been lifted this week by his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds, who sent him daily "love letters" and scans of their unborn child. (READ: U.S. reports highest daily virus toll as Easter opens in lockdown)

Symonds, who has also suffered from coronavirus symptoms in recent weeks, and the British leader have reportedly not seen each other for nearly a month.

Their baby is due this summer. – Rappler.com