LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, a major step forward in his recovery from the coronavirus and a welcome relief for a nation whose political leadership has been harder hit by the contagion than that of any other Western country.
Mr. Johnson, who spent three nights in intensive care at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, will still convalesce at Chequers, the prime minister’s country house, the government said in a statement. But he will soon be able to sign off on major decisions, including when to ease the country’s lockdown.
“On the advice of his medical team, the P.M. will not be immediately returning to work,” the statement said. “He wishes to thank everybody at St Thomas’ for the brilliant care he has received.”
Britain’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, had been deputized by Mr. Johnson to carry out his duties during his illness. But the absence of a formal succession plan in the country had raised questions about who would take charge if the prime minister were incapacitated for an extended period.
Now, those fears have eased, though it may still be weeks before Mr. Johnson retakes his place at the center of British politics. Full recovery from a serious case of the virus is lengthy and arduous, medical experts say, and Mr. Johnson’s family has warned that he should not return to work too soon.
“He has to take time,” his father, Stanley Johnson, told BBC Radio on Friday. “I cannot believe you can walk away from this and get straight back to Downing Street and pick up the reins without a period of readjustment.”
Mr. Johnson said on March 27 that he had tested positive for the virus, but continued to work, taking part in daily meetings about the pandemic by video while in isolation in his apartment next door to 10 Downing Street.
Officials initially said they expected him to come out of isolation after a week. But Mr. Johnson continued to suffer a cough and high temperature, and his condition worsened until the evening of April 5, when he was moved to St. Thomas’ Hospital, across the Thames River from Parliament.
His hospitalization was announced about an hour after a rare address to the nation by Queen Elizabeth II, a juxtaposition that left many in the country unsettled.
The government offered reassuring, if unrevealing, updates about Mr. Johnson, who was invariably described as being in “good spirits.” But top officials, including Mr. Raab, conceded that they had not spoken to the prime minister since before he was admitted to the hospital, sowing doubts about his condition.
Then, on April 6, the prime minister was moved into the intensive care unit and given oxygen treatment. In one promising sign, the government said Mr. Johnson did not require a ventilator. Three days later, he had improved enough to be transferred to a ward, where officials said he was sitting up and even taking short walks.
Mr. Johnson was reported to be watching movies that his Downing Street staff had put on a disc for him. One of them was “Love Actually,” the 2003 romantic comedy that he appropriated for a campaign advertisement during last year’s election, when he was filmed turning up on a doorstep to plead for a woman’s vote with flashcards. Mr. Johnson acknowledged that he had never watched the film.