Sci-tech

Boris Johnson defends virus record after ex-aide's attack

Boris Johnson defends virus record after ex-aide's attack”

Responding to Mr Cummings' claims about it being "nonsense" to say care homes were shielded, Mr Johnson said: "We did everything we could to protect the NHS and to protect care homes as well".

He said "it wasn't possible" to test everyone being discharged from hospitals at the start of the outbreak.

Mr Cummings said Matt Hancock had promised to put in place hospital-to-care-home testing in time for March 2020.

Dominic Cummings, who was Mr Johnson's right-hand man until late a year ago, attacked his former boss during seven hours of testimony before a parliamentary committee yesterday, casting Mr Johnson as incompetent, disorganised and unfit to be the prime minister.

Hancock added that the allegations by Cummings were "serious" and that he welcomed "the opportunity to come to the House [of Commons] to put formally on the record that these unsubstantiated allegations around honesty are not true".

"I'm just off to drive forward the vaccine programme, and then I'll be going to the House of Commons, and I'll answer questions there", he told reporters outside his home.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the allegations made by Mr Cummings are either true - in which case Mr Hancock "potentially stands in breach of the ministerial code" and the principles of standards in public life - or they are false "and the Prime Minister brought a fantasist and a liar into the heart of Downing Street".

But the prime minister did not answer when he was asked whether he has confidence in health secretary Matt Hancock who was subject to the worst of Mr Cummings' criticisms.

Читайте также: Restrictions back as new COVID outbreak hits Melbourne

As one senior source said: "After January 31, when Brexit happened, I can't think of a single thing we did where the outcome was better because of Dominic Cummings's presence".

"We worked as hard as we could to protect people who live in care homes", he said at a news conference.

The prime minister, who was described as unfit for office by his former aide, said "some of the commentary I have heard doesn't bear any relation to reality".

"If the Government has time to play a leading role in this sideshow they have the time to get on with an inquiry".

With nearly 128,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has the world's fifth highest official Covid-19 toll, far higher than the government's initial worst-case estimates of 20,000. It is spreading across the country and scientists expect it to become the dominant variant in Britain, but they say existing vaccines appear to work against it. Johnson has announced there will be a full inquiry into the government's handling of the crisis, but not until the spring of 2022. Nearly three-quarters of British adults have had one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 45% have had both doses.

Speaking about current plans to remove lockdown restrictions on June 21 - a fourth and final step on the government's roadmap out of lockdown - Johnson said that cases of the virus were increasing, including those of a variant first identified in India.

"But we may need to wait".

The prime minister told reporters: "As I have said many times I don't see anything now in the data to suggest that we have to deviate from the road map".

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