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Boris Johnson and Kier Starmer clash over 10,000 care home deaths

Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer were embroiled in a furious row over care home deaths today after a brutal confrontation in the Commons. 

The Labour leader took aim at the Prime Minister over official guidance from health chiefs in February which he said advised ‘it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected’.

But new statistics show that care homes have since become a major source of  deaths, with people being discharged from infections from hospitals not being tested during the first weeks of the pandemic.

Almost 10,000 care home residents have now died of coronavirus in Britain, accounting for a quarter of all victims.

Mr Johnson responded that it ‘wasn’t true that the advice said that’, prompted calls from Labour for the Prime Minister to return to the Commons to set the record straight.

In a letter, Sir Keir pointed out the official guidance published on February 25 said it was ‘very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected’, adding: ‘At this time of national crisis, it is more important than ever that Government ministers are accurate in the information they give.’

But No10 refused to back down, confirming the PM would not return to Parliament, with a source adding that Sir Keir omitted the preceding sentence which said the advice was ‘intended for the current position in the UK where there is currently no transmission of COVID-19 in the community’.

The source said: ‘I think what’s actually happened is that the Leader of the Opposition has inaccurately and selectively quoted from the Public Health England guidance and that is what the PM was referring to.’

In a later letter in reply to the Labour leader, Mr Johnson said: ‘I would remind you of the commitment you made, when you became the Leader of the Opposition, to work constructively with the Government in the face of this unprecedented pandemic.The public expects us to work together.’

The Labour leader took aim at the Prime Minister over official guidance from February which he said advised ‘it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected’.

In a letter, Sir Keir pointed out the official guidance published on February 25 said it was 'very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected'

In a letter, Sir Keir pointed out the official guidance published on February 25 said it was ‘very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected’

In a later letter in reply to the Labour leader, Mr Johnson said: 'I would remind you of the commitment you made, when you became the Leader of the Opposition, to work constructively with the Government in the face of this unprecedented pandemic.The public expects us to work together'

In a later letter in reply to the Labour leader, Mr Johnson said: ‘I would remind you of the commitment you made, when you became the Leader of the Opposition, to work constructively with the Government in the face of this unprecedented pandemic.The public expects us to work together’

He added: ‘At this time of national crisis, it is more important than ever that Government ministers are accurate in the information they give’

Mr Johnson announced a £600 million package for coronavirus infection control in English care homes as he admitted that the number of deaths among residents has been ‘too high’.

The Prime Minister insisted the number of outbreaks and fatalities in care homes is now ‘well down’, as he sought to defend his handling of the crisis.

Figures released on Tuesday suggested that care home deaths accounted for some 40 per cent of coronavirus-related fatalities registered in England and Wales in the week ending May 1. 

It came as Sir Keir also accused Boris Johnson of a coronavirus cover-up after Downing Street stopped publishing an international death toll comparison.

The global death toll comparison graph has been a fixture of the daily Number 10 press conference during the outbreak.

But the slide was not released yesterday and Sir Keir claimed at PMQs that the data is now being withheld because it shows the UK is the worst affected nation in Europe.

Mr Johnson hit back and said it was ‘premature’ to make such comparisons as he labelled coronavirus a ‘once in a century epidemic’.

Two two leaders faced off for the second time in the mainly deserted House of  Commons this afternoon as the Government struggled under a weight of criticism over its lockdown message and plans for the economy.

Addressing deaths in care homes, Mr Johnson added: ‘Coronavirus is an appalling disease which afflicts some groups far more than others, I think the whole country understands.

‘And in particular the elderly, and he’s right to draw attention, as I said, to the tragedy that has been taking place in care homes.

‘The Office of National Statistics is responsible for producing the data that they have, the Government had also produced data which not only shows that there has been, as I said, a terrible epidemic in care homes but since the care homes action plan began we are seeing an appreciable and substantial reduction, not just in the number of outbreaks but also in the number of deaths.’

But Keir Starmer said: ‘The Daily Telegraph this week carried the following quote from a cardiologist – ‘we discharged known, suspected and unknown cases into care homes which were unprepared with no formal warning that patients were infected, no testing available and no PPE to prevent transmission. We actively ceded this into the very population that as most vulnerable’.

‘Does the Prime Minister accept that the cardiologist is right about this?’

Mr Johnson replied: ‘I have the upmost respect for all our medical professionals who are doing an extraordinary job in very difficult circumstances but what I can tell the House is that actually the number of discharges from hospitals into care homes went down in March and April.

‘And we had a system of testing people going into care homes and that testing is now being ramped up.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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