Priti Patel has shrugged off suggestions Downing Street is to blame for Britain’s high Covid death toll, saying now is not the time “to talk about mismanagement”.
The home secretary said there were “a range of reasons” for the UK’s appalling death toll but said it was not right to draw attention to them at the moment.
The UK now has the highest Covid death rate per million people in the world. New data published earlier this week showed the country’s seven-day death average being at 16.54 per million people, slightly ahead of the Czech Republic’s at 16.32 per million and yards ahead of countries like Andorra and Panama.
The US and other major EU nations did not appear in the list of the top ten most affected places.
This comes as nearly 100,000 Britons have died within 28 days of contracting the virus since the outbreak began last March.
Asked by the BBC whether the government bore any responsibility for the country’s fatality figures doubling that of Germany’s and France’s, Patel responded: “Well, I don’t think this is a time to talk about mismanagement.
“We’ve been with the virus pandemic for nearly a year now and it’s a global pandemic across the world and governments respond very differently, we’ve seen that across the world, based on the facts, the science, the evidence, that has effectively been presented to us.”
The BBC’s Dan Walker cut in: “But the UK’s is one of the worst [death tolls] in Europe and fifth worst on the global stage.”
Patel suggested that was down to vulnerable groups were being disproportionately affected by the virus and said No 10 was working with the scientists to curb the virus’ reach.
She added: “I’m sure in the future we will all look back with a degree of humility as to perhaps what measures could have been taken and understand and look at why that may have been the case.”