Boris Johnson returns to face growing virus divisions in UK

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FILE - In this Sunday March 22, 2020 file photo British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during his daily COVID 19 coronavirus press briefing to announce new measures to limit the spread of the virus, at Downing Street in London. The British prime minister's office says Boris Johnson will return to work Monday April 27, 2020, two weeks after he was discharged from a London hospital where he was treated for the new coronavirus. (Ian Vogler / Pool via AP, File)

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is returning to work after recovering from a coronavirus infection that put him in intensive care, with his government facing growing criticism over the deaths and disruption the virus has caused.

Johnson’s office said he would be back at his desk in 10 Downing St. on Monday, two weeks after he was released from a London hospital. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been standing in for the prime minister, said Sunday that Johnson — the only world leader to be diagnosed with the coronavirus — was “raring to go.”

Britain has recorded 20,732 deaths among people hospitalized with COVID-19, the fifth country in the world to surpass 20,000 deaths. Thousands more are thought to have died in nursing homes.

Johnson, 55, spent a week at St. Thomas’ Hospital, including three nights in intensive care, where he was given oxygen and watched around the clock by medical workers. After he was released on April 12, he recorded a video message thanking staff at the hospital for saving his life.

Johnson hasn't been seen in public since, as he recovered at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat outside London.

While he convalesced, Britain's coronavirus death toll has mounted, with another 413 virus-related deaths announced Sunday.

Opposition politicians say Britain's death toll could have been lower if Johnson's Conservative government had imposed a nationwide lockdown sooner. But they are also demanding to know when and how the government will ease the restrictions that were imposed March 23 and run to at least May 7.

Some people and businesses are growing impatient with the restrictions, which have brought much of the economy and daily life to a halt. Road traffic has begun to creep up after plummeting when the lockdown first was imposed, and some businesses have begun to reopen after implementing social-distancing measures.