Police issue warning after Boris Johnson fails to condemn Dominic Cumming’s drive to test his eyesight

PUBLISHED: 20:15 25 May 2020 | UPDATED: 20:23 25 May 2020

Handout photo issued by 10 Downing Street of Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). PA Photo. Picture date: Monday May 25, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Handout photo issued by 10 Downing Street of Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). PA Photo. Picture date: Monday May 25, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales has taken to social media to warn people not to get behind the wheel if they feel unwell or their eyesight is impaired.

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Prime minister Boris Johnson has said that his own eyesight was affected by coronavirus, after questions over the fact his aide Dominic Cummings said he had gone on a drive to test his vision after recovering from the virus.

Johnson told the daily Downing Street press briefing that he was “having to wear glasses for the first time in years” after suffering coronavirus.

He added: “I’m finding that I have to wear spectacles for the first time in years – because I think of the likely effects of this thing – so I’m inclined to think there’s some … I think that’s very, very plausible that eyesight can be a problem associated with coronavirus.”

His comments come after Cummings earlier told reporters that he took his family to Barnard Castle to see if he could drive safely after his illness affected his eyesight.


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Cummings said he had fallen ill with “Covid symptoms” of a headache and fever the day after arriving in Durham.

After recovering, he said he got expert medical advice and was told he could go back to work.

But because the virus had affected his eyesight, he said his wife did not want to risk the drive back to London and they agreed they should go for a short drive.

He added: “My wife was very worried, particularly as my eyesight seemed to have been affected by the disease.

“She did not want to risk a nearly 300-mile drive with our child given how ill I had been.

MORE: Dominic Cummings ‘does not regret’ and fails to apologise for actions in Downing Street statement

“We agreed that we should go for a short drive to see if I could drive safely, we drove for roughly half an hour and ended up on the outskirts of Barnard Castle town.

“We did not visit the castle, we did not walk around the town.

“We parked by a river. My wife and I discussed the situation, we agreed that I could drive safely, we should turn around and go home.”

It prompted the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter to issue a warning over the comments.

He said: “Folks, I say this in all sincerity and as an important road safety issue.

“If you’re feeling unwell and your eyesight may be impaired do not drive your vehicle to test your ability to drive. It’s not a wise move.

“As a former road death investigator with Hampshire police I have investigated many serious collisions, including fatalities.

“Some of these were caused by drivers with impaired vision, this is a serious issue.

“Do not drive if your eyesight is impaired or you feel unwell.”

Surrey Police’s road policing unit also tweeted that anyone concerned about their eyesight should not drive.

It added: “A driver’s vision is very important.

“If you have any concerns about your eyesight don’t drive, until you’ve sought the advice of a qualified optician.

“A driver must be able to read a standard number plate from 20 metres.”

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