Downing Street has slammed a newspaper report that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was too slow to act on the coronavirus pandemic as it hit the UK, it was reported.
Johnson’s government was accused of “sleepwalking” into the COVID-19 “disaster”, as it was revealed the prime minister had missed five crucial emergency Cobra meetings as the virus tightened its grip on China and much of continental Europe, the Metro newspaper reported.
An investigation, published by the Sunday Times, said a Whitehall source claimed the government had “missed the boat on testing and PPE”.
The article also claimed the Johnson administration “just watched” as the death toll mounted in the then-epicentre of the outbreak, Wuhan, China.
On Sunday, Number 10 slammed the piece, accusing it of “falsehoods” and “errors”, in a lengthy statement posted by the Department of Health and Social Care on the UK government’s official website.
A Government spokesman said: “This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have taken the right steps at the right time to combat it, guided at all times by the best scientific advice.
“The government has been working day and night to battle against coronavirus, delivering a strategy designed at all times to protect our NHS and save lives. Our response has ensured that the NHS has been given all the support it needs to ensure everyone requiring treatment has received it, as well as providing protection to businesses and reassurance to workers.
“The Prime Minister has been at the helm of the response to this, providing leadership during this hugely challenging period for the whole nation.”
However, Ministers on Sunday defended the actions of the Prime Minister, who is currently recovering from COVID-19, the Metro newspaper reported.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove appeared on several Sunday morning TV shows and described the article as “off beam”.
He confirmed that Johnson had failed to show up to five weeks’ worth of committee Cobra meetings – but insisted this wasn’t unusual and described the criticism of the PM as “grotesque”.
As of Monday, the UK reported 121,173 coronavirus cases with 16,095deaths.