Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds gesture as they arrive at 10 Downing Street in London. File / Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday became a father again when his partner Carrie Symonds gave birth to a baby boy, just weeks after he himself was hospitalised with coronavirus.
The news came as a surprise, as Symonds, 32, was not thought to be due for several weeks, but both she and the baby were said to be doing "very well."
The couple was recently confronted with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic up close, after both contracted the potentially deadly virus.
Johnson, 55, only returned to work on Monday after being hospitalised, including three nights in intensive care, which he later said "could have gone either way."
Symonds, a former head of communications for the Conservative party, also reported having symptoms, although she recovered at home.
"The prime minister and Ms Symonds are thrilled to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning," a spokesman for the couple said.
"Both mother and baby are doing very well."
Johnson was present for the birth at an unnamed state-run National Health Service (NHS) hospital in London, according to his political spokesman.
He told reporters the Conservative leader had returned to work in Downing Street by Wednesday lunchtime, but that he would be taking some paternity leave.
"Later in the year, he'll take a short period of paternity leave," the spokesman said.
Messages of support for the pair poured in from around the world and across the British political spectrum.
Addressing his "dear friend" on Twitter, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent Johnson his "warmest congratulations on the birth of a sweet baby boy".
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called it "an absolute blessing", noting the "tough time" Johnson had recently endured as he sent "best wishes from Australia."
In Britain, opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said he hoped the birth would bring the couple "incredible relief and joy," while Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wished "health and happiness to the wee one."
Johnson has at least five other children, including four with his second wife, Marina Wheeler, from whom he split in 2018.
He also had a daughter as a result of an extra-marital affair while he was mayor of London, according to a 2013 court case.
Johnson and Symonds, who announced in February that they were engaged, last year became the first unmarried couple to live in Downing Street.
However, the new baby will not be the first — former prime ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron both became fathers while in office.
Johnson's spokesman said the family planned to continue living in a flat above his Downing Street offices.Agence France-Presse
His victory catapults the United Kingdom towards a Brexit showdown with the EU and towards a constitutional crisis at home, as British lawmakers have vowed to bring down any government that tries to leave the bloc without a divorce deal.
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Queen Elizabeth II sends private message congratulating Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds on birth of their son.
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