In a video posted on Twitter following his discharge from hospital today, the Prime Minister revealed exactly how dire his condition was as he was admitted to intensive care in St Thomas’ Hospital in London with coronavirus.
The PM said: “I've today left hospital after a week in which the NHS has saved my life. No question. It's hard to find words to express my debt.”
He said he had seen the pressure the health service was under as well as “the personal courage not just of the doctors and nurses, but of everyone, the cleaners, the cooks, the healthcare workers of every description, physios, radiographers, pharmacists, who kept coming to work, kept putting themselves in harm's way, kept risking this deadly virus”
His message came as it was confirmed a further 737 people had died from the virus, bringing the total number acoss the UK to 10,612.
He said: “It is thanks to that courage, that devotion, that duty and that love that our NHS has been unbeatable.”
But in one of the first clues as to how sick the Prime Minister had truly been, he revealed two nurses in particular had kept vigil at his bedside, “when things could have gone either way”.
He said: “I want to pay my own thanks to the utterly brilliant doctors, leaders in their fields, men and women but several of them for some reason called Nick, who took some crucial decisions a few days ago for which I will be grateful for the rest of my life.
“I want to thank the many nurses, men and women, whose care has been so astonishing.
“I am going to forget some names, so forgive me, but I want to thank Po Ling and Shannon and Emily and Angel and Connie and Becky and Rachael and Nicky and Ann.
“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.
“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 said: “So that is how I also know that across this country, 24 hours a day, for every second of every hour, there are hundreds of thousands of NHS staff who are acting with the same care and thought and precision as Jenny and Luis.
“That is why we will defeat this coronavirus and defeat it together.
“We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.”
Mr Johnson also thanked the British public for sticking to lockdown rules.
He said: “When the sun is out and the kids are at home; when the whole natural world seems at its loveliest and the outdoors is so inviting, I can only imagine how tough it has been to follow the rules on social distancing
“I thank you because so many millions and millions of people across this country have been doing the right thing - millions going through the hardship of self-isolation - faithfully, patiently, with thought and care for others as well as for themselves.
“I want you to know that this Easter Sunday I do believe that your efforts are worth it, and are daily proving their worth.
“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.
“A fight we never picked against an enemy we still don’t entirely understand.
“We are making progress in this national battle because the British public formed a human shield around this country’s greatest national asset - our National Health Service.
“We understood and we decided that if together we could keep our NHS safe, if we could stop our NHS from being overwhelmed, then we could not be beaten, and this country would rise together and overcome this challenge, as we have overcome so many challenges in the past.”
The Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson also praised the health service.
He said: “I realise now – I think the whole country realises – how close he came to a crisis situation and it is wonderful he has come out of that crisis.
“It is wonderful that the national health service was able to help him and I think he has also paid tribute to them.
“Our thoughts are with everybody, not only those who are fighting the battle against coronavirus, but those who are suffering from it.”
He said he hopes the Prime Minister “does not overdo it” while recovering at Chequers.
Mr Johnson, who is at his farm in Exmoor, added: “I am absolutely delighted to hear the news that Boris has left hospital – it is wonderful news.
“Of course it is not only me who is delighted but the whole family.
“I am especially pleased that he will now be able to be with his fiancee Carrie, and if they head to Chequers I very much hope he doesn’t overdo it.”