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Boris Johnson’s spokesman refused to apologize after the prime minister appeared to blame care homes over the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, sparking a furious reaction.
“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,” Johnson said on a visit to Yorkshire on Monday. “One of the things the crisis has shown is we need to think about how we organize our social care package better.”
Read more: Elderly Left ‘In the Lurch’ by U.K. Response to Coronavirus
The homes, which care for the elderly and adults otherwise unable to look after themselves, have borne the brunt of the virus in Britain, which has one of the highest global death tolls from the pandemic. Johnson’s comments were slammed by the head of a social care charity and opposition lawmakers, who said it was the government that had acted too late and failed to give proper guidance.
“What we’re getting is history rewritten in front of us, when you could list pages and pages of government failure which the system has had to cope with,” Mark Adams, chief executive of charity Community Integrated Care, told BBC Radio. “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.”
Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, said the prime minister’s remarks had been misunderstood.
“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,” Slack said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. “Care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.”
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