Boris Johnson’s “mismanagement” of loosening virus restrictions risks a second wave of infections, warned Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer.
In his strongest criticism to date of the Prime Minister’s handling of the crisis, he told the Guardian that Mr. Johnson must “take control” and restore public confidence.
He said there was a suspicion that the Prime Minister was “flying away” on measures taken to reopen schools and loosen protection boards.
But Number 10 said it was proceeding with caution to ensure safe recovery.
Johnson and Sir Keir will face the Prime Minister’s questions later for the first time since the dispute over Dominic Cummings’ behavior broke out.
Also later Wednesday, the government will give more details on its plans to demand that the majority of those arriving in the UK isolate themselves for 14 days amid criticism of the quarantine plan by many Conservative MPs.
In the Daily Telegraph, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps said “we owe the thousands of deaths” to introduce measures to risk imported cases over the months of ‘summer.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested that the UK is starting to “win the battle” against the virus, which has claimed the lives of almost 40,000 people, according to daily government figures.
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Separate data released by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday suggests that the number of people who die each week from the virus has dropped to its lowest level in the UK since March.
But some scientists, public health experts, and opposition politicians warned that Monday’s easing of restrictions – which saw the partial reopening of primary schools, the resumption of certain sports, the reopening of covered markets and new freedoms for those who protected themselves before leaving the house – are premature.
The changes have occurred despite the fact that the Covid-19 alert level has not yet been officially reduced from four to three.
“10 times worse”
Sir Keir said that if the Labor Party wanted society to reopen and companies started to recover, it had deep reservations about the approach in England compared to that of Wales and Scotland.
He said the children had returned to school before the system for identifying new cases and finding their contacts was fully operational and that public health officials had not been informed of the changes to protection boards for the most vulnerable – which was announced a month before a review was to take place.
“After a week or more of mismanagement, I am deeply concerned that the government has made the situation difficult 10 times worse,” he said. “We called for an exit strategy. What we seem to have is an exit without strategy. “
He warned that confidence in the government had been “burned” at a crucial time by the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Dominic Cummings’ chief adviser and whether he had broken the lock rules.
“Like many people across the country, the government is increasingly concerned about the government,” said Sir Keir.
“At the very moment when there should have been maximum confidence in the government, confidence collapsed.
“I inform the Prime Minister that he must take control and restore public confidence in the government’s management of the epidemic.
“If we see a sharp increase in the rate of R, the rate of infection, or an avalanche of local blockages, the responsibility lies squarely at the door of number 10.”
Asked about the likelihood of a second peak of infections on Tuesday, Professor John Newton, national test coordinator in England, said he was “irregular” and that any resurgence was likely to be “localized”.
But renowned epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, whose government relied on modeling in the first phase of the epidemic, warned that infections in hospitals and nursing homes are spreading in the community and maintaining the epidemic to the point that cases will remain stable until September.
A spokesman for Downing Street said its goal was “to help the country recover safely from the coronavirus and restore the livelihoods of millions of people across the country.”
“Now is the time to look to the future, not to the past, as we continue to fight this virus while taking prudent steps to ease the restrictions.
The BBC understands that the PM has created two new cabinet committees to support the next phase of Covid’s response – one overseeing the stimulus strategy and the other overseeing the implementation of the policy.