Hancock: 'It took time to build the testing' for care homes

Cummings opens fire on ministers over pandemic

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".

"But we could only do that once we had the testing capacity".

That comment - that he only committed to testing people being transferred into care homes "when we could do it", rather than from March 2020 as Mr Cummings said - is likely to come under intense scrutiny.

Mr Hancock was given repeated opportunities to deny the claim on Thursday, first in the Commons and then in a Covid press conference.

Speaking to Parliament on Thursday after he was called on to answer lawmakers' questions, Hancock said that "I've been straight with people in public and in private throughout".

Asked about that, Johnson said: "Some of the commentary I've heard doesn't bear any relation to reality and what people want us to get on with is delivering the road map, and trying cautiously, to take our country forward through what has been one of the most hard periods that I think anybody can remember post war".

Opposition Labour Party health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said whether or not Cummings' allegations were true, the government had questions to answer.

Asked whether those deaths were due to his "action or inaction", Mr Johnson said: "No, I don't think so".

"I think it is (wrong)", housing minister Robert Jenrick told BBC radio when asked about the allegation from Cummings that tens of thousands of people had died unnecessarily. "The government rhetoric was, 'We put a shield around care homes and blah blah.' It's complete nonsense", Cummings said.

He also hit out at Boris Johnson telling a Parliament Committee that he should never have made Prime Minister and the government response to the pandemic in the United Kingdom was "chaotic" and "ill-prepared".


He said Mr Hancock should have been sacked on 15 to 20 occasions and Whitehall's top mandarin at the time, Sir Mark Sedwill, had "lost confidence in the Secretary of State's honesty".

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves his house, in London, Britain May 27, 2021.

"It was criminal, disgraceful behaviour that caused serious harm", Mr Cummings claimed.

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

Michael Gove defended his department, the Cabinet Office, after it too was savaged as "terrifyingly shit" by Mr Cummings.

"Other western democracies were also faced with these challenges, also were learning in real time about how to deal with them and have also committed, as we have, to different types of public inquiry so appropriate lessons can be learned".

Downing Street denied Mr Johnson was "obsessed with the media", as claimed by Mr Cummings.

Boris Johnson's former aid described Matt Hancock as "completely incapable of doing the job".

Cummings also said families who lost loved ones to COVID "deserve the truth" over the handling of the pandemic, and "tens of thousands of people died who didn't need to die".

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

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