MATT Hancock rejected Chris Whitty’s advice to test “all people going into care homes” as Britain was hit by the Covid pandemic.
Mr Whitty gave his advice early in April 2020 — about a month into the pandemic[/caption]
But he then changed his mind.
He told officials he only wanted to test people entering care homes from hospital — not those from the wider community.
In messages leaked to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hancock said doing both would “muddy the waters” — asking officials to “tell me if I’m wrong”.
Mr Hancock introduced guidance that made testing mandatory for those entering from hospital.
But guidance calling for those coming in from the community to be tested too was not introudced until August 14.
A total of 17,678 people died of Covid in care homes in England between April 17 and August 13.
Last night a spokesperson for Mr Hancock said: “The story spun on care homes is completely wrong. What the messages show is that Mr Hancock pushed for testing of those going into care homes when that testing was available.”
The WhatsApp messages also revealed Mr Hancock and his team set up a group chat called “crisis management” to deal with the comms fallout after The Sun revealed he had broken lockdown rules and was having an affair with his aide, Gina Coladangelo.
A spokesperson for Matt Hancock said: “It is outrageous that this distorted account of the pandemic is being pushed with partial leaks, spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda, which would have cost hundreds of thousands of lives if followed.
“What the messages do show is a lot of people working hard to save lives.
“The full documents have already all been made available to the inquiry, which is the proper place for an objective assessment, so true lessons can be learned.
“Those who argue there shouldn’t have been a lockdown ignore the fact that half-a-million people would have died had we not locked down.
“And for those saying we should never lock down again, imagine if a disease killed half those infected, and half the population were going to get infected – as is happening right now with avian flu in birds. If that disease were in humans, of course we’d want to lock down.
“The story spun on care homes is completely wrong. What the messages show is that Mr Hancock pushed for testing of those going into care homes when that testing was available.
“Instead of spinning and leaks we need the full, comprehensive inquiry, to ensure we are as well prepared as we can be for the next pandemic, whenever it comes.”