Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for comments about care homes

PUBLISHED: 12:23 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:43 07 July 2020

No 10 said prime minister Boris Johnson would not apologise for comments he made about care homes; PA Video/PA Wire

No 10 said prime minister Boris Johnson would not apologise for comments he made about care homes; PA Video/PA Wire

Boris Johnson has downplayed calls to apologise for comments he made about the spread of coronavirus in care homes.

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Number 10 issued a statement saying the prime minister would not apologise for his remarks about care workers spreading Covid-19 in nursing homes.

Asked what Johnson meant by his comments, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “Throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.

“The prime minister was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time.”

Asked if the prime minister would like to apologise or retract the comments, the spokesman said: “As I’ve just set out, the PM thinks that throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.”

Johnson sparked fury when he appeared to shift the blame for deaths in nursing homes away from the government and onto frontline carer.

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“We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time,” he told reporters while on a visit in Goole, Yorkshire.

Mark Adams, chief executive of the charity Community Integrated Care, said the remarks were “at best clumsy and cowardly”.

“I think we’re almost entering an… alternative reality where the government set the rules, we follow them and they don’t like the results and they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best,” he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

“I think what we’re getting is history re-written in front of us, when you could list pages and pages of government failure which the system has had to cope with.

“And to get a throwaway comment, almost glibly blaming the social care system and not holding your hand up for starting too late, doing the wrong things, making mistake after mistake, is just frankly unacceptable.”

Business secretary Alok Sharma defended the prime minister’s comments during an appearance on BBC Breakfast.

He told viewers: “What the prime minister was pointing out is nobody knew what the correct procedures were, because we know that the extent of the asymptomatic cases was not known at the time.”

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