UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock lost his temper with the BBC on Thursday, after accusations the government is giving mixed messages on Covid-19 and calls for clarity on an ‘exit strategy’ from the current lockdown.
During an interview with Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Hancock was pressed on remarks made by Professor Neil Ferguson – a key scientific adviser to the government – who has insisted ministers need to “accelerate” exit decisions from the strict lockdown measures.
Defending the government’s coronavirus strategy, Hancock insisted that it was important how the government communicates its message to the British public on the Covid-19 pandemic, before Robinson received an ill-tempered response for trying to interrupt the health minister.
Let me please, let me finish the answer!
An exasperated Hancock then took a swipe at his critics, angrily insisting that the scientists, commentators and interviewers “can say what they like,” “but [ the government] will do what is best by dealing with this virus.”
The UK government has so far resisted calls from, among others, the Labour Party, to outline what an exit plan would look like, insisting that the priority must be sticking to the current lockdown rules, principally ‘staying at home.’
Many on social media seem to have revelled at the health secretary losing his temper, with some suggesting that maybe he should have listened to scientists instead of other government advisers like Dominic Cummings so that “we wouldn’t have such a high death toll.”
Paul – a prominent left-wing journalist and author – hit out at Hancock on Twitter for not providing a clear strategy for moving forward, following on from “the ventilator fiasco, the PPE fiasco, the care home shambles.”
On Wednesday the health secretary got heavily lambasted for offering UK care workers a “badge of honor” that may get them perks similar to NHS staff amid the pandemic. Providing care workers with protective equipment and additional funding should have been his first concern instead, many critics argued.
Figures published by the Department for Health and Social Care on Wednesday showed that 98,476 people in the UK had tested positive for the virus since the start of the outbreak. Of these, 12,868 have died – 761 of them in the last 24-hour period of reporting.