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Watch: Boris Johnson, just out of hospital, implores British to stay at home to beat coronavirus

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By Lauren Chadwick
Virus Outbreak Britain
Virus Outbreak Britain   -   Copyright  Twitter Boris Johnson/Downing Street via AP
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Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital on Sunday after a week of treatment for the coronavirus.

Speaking for the first time in over a week since being admitted to St. Thomas' Hospital in London, the UK prime minister implored people to stay at home and respect the rules of social distancing.

His message came as the number of deaths in the United Kingdom due to coronavirus passed 10,000.

"Our NHS is the beating heart of this country," Johnson said, as he named the doctors and nurses who were by his side when he was hospitalised for COVID-19.

Two nurses in particular, Johnson said, stood by his bedside for 48 hours "when things could have gone either way."

The UK government, meanwhile, has been criticised recently for its handling of the crisis including a delay in distributing personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses, and care workers.

UK hard hit by coronavirus pandemic

The prime minister's illness came as the epidemic worsened in the United Kingdom.

The UK government said that deaths related to COVID-19 had passed 10,000 with 737 more deaths between Saturday and Sunday.

Last week the government had confirmed more deaths in a single day due to coronavirus than any other European country with 980.

One institute based in the United States has predicted that the UK could eventually have the highest death toll in Europe.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington predicts that the UK could have anywhere between 14,573 and 219,211 deaths due to the epidemic - with their mean prediction of 66,314.

A joint statement of doctors groups in the UK said earlier this week that the legacy of the government would be a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

"There have been repeated assurances from the government that there is plenty of appropriate PPE. However it is widely reported from the front line that PPE is in very short supply, and that what is available does not adequately protect from infection," the statement, signed by lobbying group Doctors' Association United Kingdom and other unions, said.

"When I talk to my colleagues across the world, we share this challenge," said health secretary Matt Hancock at a press briefing, adding that they had the stockpile of materials but that it was a logistical operation to distribute it.

Prime Minister continues to recover from illness

Hancock said the toll of the epidemic in the country will depend on people's actions, something Johnson appeared to agree with as he implored people to stay at home.

"I want to thank everyone in the entire UK for the effort and the sacrifice you have made and are making," Johnson said on Sunday, ending the video by asking people to continue to stay home.

The prime minister will continue to recovering at Chequers, his office said in a statement, before immediately returning to work after spending several days in intensive care.

Johnson posted a video on March 27th stating that he had tested positive for the virus and was experiencing "mild symptoms". On April 5th, he was admitted to the hospital for tests.

Downing Street did not release many details on the Prime Minister's condition throughout the week besides that he was transferred to intensive care on April 6th but did not require a ventilator.

Johnson's fiancée Carrie Symonds tweeted shortly after he was released from hospital on Sunday that "there were times last week that were very dark indeed."

"My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones," Symonds, who is pregnant and also recovering from coronavirus, said.