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

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

Dominic Cummings, who was Prime Minister Boris Johnson's right hand man until late previous year, delivered a withering attack on his former boss and Hancock during seven hours of testimony before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, saying their ineptitude led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

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".

He said Johnson was "unfit for the job" of prime minister.

A statement from the Prime Minister is expected with the initial comments made in an interview during a visit to Colchester Hospital.

One of Mr Cummings' central claims was that Mr Hancock had allowed residents to be discharged to their care home without being tested while insisted there was testing in place, a charge the health secretary did not deny during an Urgent Question in the Commons on Thursday.

Asked if he agreed with Cummings' allegation, Johnson said: "No, I don't think so, but of course this has been an incredibly hard series of decisions, none of which we've taken lightly".

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".

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".

Families of those lost to the health crisis said that hearing the admissions from Cummings was traumatic, while the opposition Labour Party once again called for an immediate public inquiry into the government's handling of the crisis that led to more than 128,000 deaths on British soil.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has brushed aside allegations from his former Chief Aide that his failings had caused tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths from COVID-19, saying "some of the commentary" bore no relation to reality.

The UK has recorded nearly 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe, and experienced one of the world's deepest recessions in 2020 as three successive lockdowns hobbled the economy.

Mr Johnson said removing the remaining measures would depend on how much the new variant drove an increase in cases and the speed of the vaccination campaign.

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". 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.

"But we may need to wait".

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