SUNDAY, April 12, 2020 (HealthDay News) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from the hospital on Sunday — a positive sign after a weeks-long battle with COVID-19.
According to The New York Times, Johnson, 55, will recover at the prime minister’s country house of Chequers, the government said in a statement. He is expected to soon return to work and make decisions on key government policy, including when Britain might ease out of lockdown.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the prime minister’s office said Johnson had “moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.” The prime minister spent a total of three nights in the intensive care unit (ICU).
According to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was standing in for the prime minister, Johnson did not develop pneumonia and had not required mechanical ventilation or noninvasive respiratory support while in the ICU, although he was treated with oxygen.
Johnson was first diagnosed with coronavirus infection on March 26.
Dr. Robert Glatter is an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Although he is not involved in Johnson’s care, he is very familiar with protocols for intensive care of COVID-19 patients.
“Before they are transferred to ICU, some COVID-19 patients are maintained on increasing amounts of oxygen delivered by noninvasive ventilation devices, such as a high-flow nasal cannula,” Glatter explained. Use of this device “minimizes the potential for any aerosolized virus in the surroundings,” he said.
“However, if this device is not available, increasing amounts of oxygen delivered through nasal prongs along with an oxygen mask with 100% non-rebreather can be a temporizing measure before a patient is placed on a ventilator,” Glatter added.
Before any patient is sent to the ICU, staff would watch them closely for certain signs, such as change in their mental status, increasing inability to breathe, and a lowering of blood-oxygen levels.
Once placed in the ICU, “vital signs including heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels are continuously monitored,” Glatter said. “Patients receive intravenous medication to relax their muscles and alleviate anxiety while the breathing tube is in place.”
The majority of coronavirus infections will be mild; only 15% will require hospital admission, and only about 5% of those are so severe as to require ICU care, according to Dr. Megan Coffee, a clinical assistant professor of infectious disease and immunology at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine in New York City.
— E.J. Mundell
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SOURCES: Robert Glatter, M.D., emergency medicine physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; The New York Times
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