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‘Who is actually in charge?’ Head of top research lab tears into Boris Johnson over coronavirus

Sir Paul’s intervention came as Boris Johnson’s (pictured today) Government faces increasing pressure over its handling of the pandemic

A Nobel Prize-winning scientists tore into Boris Johnson’s leadership during the coronavirus crisis today, claiming it was not clear ‘who is actually in charge of the decisions’.

Sir Paul Nurse said Britain has been left on the ‘back foot’ with a lack of clear planning that left it ”firefighting through successive crises’, in a scathing attack on the political establishment.

Sir Paul, the chief executive of the distinguished Francis Crick Institute, said the country had been ‘increasingly playing catch-up’ and scientists and politicians should lay out ‘a much clearer publicly-presented strategy’ to tackle the pandemic.

The geneticist, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001, told the BBC’s Today Programme: ‘I’m not completely convinced that we are actually being quite clear in having good leadership.

‘The question I keep asking myself is: Do we have a proper Government system in here that can combine tentative knowledge, scientific knowledge, with political action?

‘And the question I’m constantly asking myself is: Who is actually in charge of the decisions? Who is developing the strategy and the operation and implementation of that strategy?

Sir Paul Nurse said Britain has been left on the 'back foot' with a lack of clear planning that left it ''firefighting through successive crises', in a scathing attack on the political establishment.

Sir Paul Nurse said Britain has been left on the ‘back foot’ with a lack of clear planning that left it ”firefighting through successive crises’, in a scathing attack on the political establishment.

The geneticist, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001, criticised the PM (pictured last night), telling the BBC's Today Programme: 'I'm not completely convinced that we are actually being quite clear in having good leadership'

The geneticist, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001, criticised the PM (pictured last night), telling the BBC’s Today Programme: ‘I’m not completely convinced that we are actually being quite clear in having good leadership’

‘Is it ministers? Is it Public Health England? The National Health Service? The Office for Life Sciences, Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies)? I don’t know, but more importantly, do they know?’

The future of ‘spoons: Boss Tim Martin reveals plans to REOPEN 875 pubs 

JD Wetherspoon today revealed its £11million masterplan to reopen its 875 pubs as soon as the Government gives them the nod in July – but while the blueprint promises social distancing there is no mention of the two-metre rule experts say will decimate the hospitality sector.

Drinkers will be told ‘not to meet in large groups’ and will be expected to sanitise their hands on arrival and at other times during their visit. 

They will follow one-way systems to the toilets and through the bar where the tills will be screened off to protect staff likely to be wearing masks, gloves and eye protection, the chain said.

Staff will hand over all drinks holding the base of the pint or wine glass and when ordered via a smartphone they will be delivered to the table on a tray for the customers to take themselves to reduce the chances of spreading Covid-19. 

Families will be asked to keep children seated and always accompanied to the toilet.

The 875 pubs in UK and Ireland will open during its usual hours of 8am to around 1am and encourage customers to order using its app with posters put up telling them ‘there is no need to visit the bar’. 

But people can pay by cash or card at the till if necessary and must not move any furniture.

Sir Paul’s intervention came as the Government faces increasing pressure over its handling of the pandemic. It is facing ongoing criticism over the rate of deaths in care homes, a decision to abandon widespread testing early on and the slow roll out of a new testing regime. 

Last night another top scientist claimed thousands of lives could have been saved from Covid-19 if Britain’s lockdown was imposed just one week earlier.

Government scientific adviser Sir Ian Boyd, a member of Number 10’s SAGE panel, admitted ‘it would have made quite a big difference’ if ministers acted sooner to fight the outbreak.

Department of Health figures show 36,042 Brits have died after testing positive for the coronavirus, which began to rapidly spread in the UK in March.

The Government is expected to unveil a new quarantine scheme today that forces anyone entering the UK to isolate for 14 days. 

And so-called coronavirus ‘immunity certificates’ that could allow Britons to return to work have come a step closer after ministers announced that mass antibody tests are being deployed.

NHS and care workers will start to be given the tests from next week after Matt Hancock announced the government has signed a contract for 10 million kits.

The screening will finally show who has been through the disease and emerged with some level of resistance, a blind spot that has so far been a major blow to the UK response.

Asked about the country’s approach to the outbreak on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Paul said: ‘I’m not sure we are quite getting it right.’

Sir Paul added: ‘Everybody involved, not just the politicians, the scientists and the doctors, we’re all making mistakes and we have to try and learn from what mistakes have been made up until now.

‘I get a sense the UK has been rather too much on the back foot, increasingly playing catch-up, firefighting through successive crises.’

He suggested that what was needed was to ‘get a much clearer publicly-presented strategy as to what we’re actually trying to do, and the evidence upon which it is based’.

Sir Paul added: ‘And we’re not getting that in communications. Maybe there’s a strategy there, I don’t see it.’

Detailed statistics show that more than 44,000 people have already died with COVID-19 in the UK, but this study from the University of Southampton suggests that number could have been kept to 11,200 if lockdown was introduced earlier

Detailed statistics show that more than 44,000 people have already died with COVID-19 in the UK, but a study from the University of Southampton suggested that number could have been kept to 11,200 if lockdown was introduced earlier

Asked about the use of quarantine, Sir Paul suggested more evidence was needed about the infectiousness of people with coronavirus and how this was revealed through symptoms.

He said: ‘Because for a long time it’s been clear that people without symptoms can be infected and therefore be infectious to other people and yet in the hospitals and in the care homes we haven’t been testing such people.

‘So we have been allowing people, care workers, to be in the ward, who are potentially infected, infecting patients, infecting themselves, and as a consequence making hospitals potentially unsafe places to be.

‘We have to see a changed strategy there that is reliant upon the real evidence.’

He continued: ‘I don’t see clarity in the public sphere about these sorts of arguments that need to be shown to the public so that they feel actually they are safe when they go to hospital.’

Sir Paul said there was ‘another mistake’ when the testing strategy was put in place.

He said: ‘There were many laboratories around the country, smaller laboratories, that could have got a major, major increase in testing capacity much more quickly than was possible with the big labs.’

Sir Paul said he did not think there should be a formal inquiry into the UK’s response to the outbreak now, but more ‘openness’ was needed, alongside a ‘greater debate in the public domain’.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he 'wouldn't agree' with Sir Paul's criticism, explaining that the Government has followed 'the best advice that is out there'

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he ‘wouldn’t agree’ with Sir Paul’s criticism, explaining that the Government has followed ‘the best advice that is out there’

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he ‘wouldn’t agree’ with Sir Paul’s criticism, explaining that the Government has followed ‘the best advice that is out there’.

He said: ‘I think what we have seen through this actually is we as a Government have been very clear with people, very transparent with people.

‘The Prime Minister himself has been very clear – the Prime Minister ultimately is responsible.

‘We do follow the best advice that is out there from both the scientific advisers, our chief medical advisers and the teams there but ultimately it is the ministers who make decisions.

‘And I think that is one of the things we have seen throughout this process, is our working to ensure we get as much information to people as we can to ensure that people understand what we can all do to play our part in keeping the R level down.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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