Pandemic resources diverted to Brexit, former U.K. official says

London –

The UK’s former health secretary said in a survey Tuesday that the UK’s lack of pandemic preparedness was due to the government’s resources being diverted to pandemic planning to prepare for disruptions from a possible no-deal Brexit. He said that was also a factor.

Matt Hancock also said that when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, authorities had to rush “from the ground up” to procure protective gear, mass-test and install contact-tracing systems. The reason, he said, is that the UK’s planning stance is entirely “oriented towards how to recover from a disaster, towards how to recover from a disaster and not.” . please stop it. “

“The British principle was to plan for the impact of a disaster. Can we buy enough body bags? Where are we going to bury the dead?” Hancock said.

“There was no mass testing, no mass contact tracing, because it was assumed that once community transmission occurred, it would not be possible to stop the spread. What do you mean ‘? ‘ he added. “It was completely wrong.”

Hancock said that a decade-old government document on pandemic preparedness had never been updated, and that the official Pandemic Task Force’s 2018-2019 moratorium on operations was “disorganized.” He acknowledged that resources had been shifted to focus on the threat of “Brexit”.

In 2019, the UK government was preoccupied with the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal in place. A bitterly divided parliament three times rejected then-Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to leave the EU.

The UK finally left the trading bloc in 2020.

Hancock, who spearheaded efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus as health secretary and became one of Britain’s most prominent politicians, was arrested in June 2021 for violating social distancing rules with his entourage. forced to resign. At the time, a front-page photo of him kissing an aide at a government agency ran.

Hancock has faced criticism in the past over Britain’s coronavirus testing practices and how authorities have dealt with the spread of the pandemic in nursing homes for the elderly. The UK has one of the highest death tolls from COVID-19 in Europe, with the virus being the cause of nearly 227,000 recorded deaths.

Hancock on Tuesday issued an emotional apology to all those who died and those affected.

“I am deeply sorry for each and every death that has taken place. I also understand why some people find it difficult to accept my apology,” he said. rice field.

Earlier, as Mr. Hancock arrived for an investigation in London, members of the group “COVID FAMILYS FORYJIS” held up pictures of relatives who had died in the pandemic.

The extensive inquiry, led by a retired judge, aims to explore Britain’s coronavirus pandemic preparedness, government response and what lessons can be learned for the future. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who led Britain during the pandemic, agreed to continue the investigation at the end of 2021 after intense pressure from his family.

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