Responding during the virtual conference hosted by the Center for Policy Studies think tank, he said, “I think there were some outstanding performances that were not fully appreciated. And I think it’s going to be like the Olympics, that’s when it’s all over and we look back and think, we’re actually going to be extremely proud of ourselves.
The Labor Party called L Bethell’s remarks “tasteless and offensive”. Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “We saw an incomprehensible level of suffering from this virus earlier this year. For a health minister, to suggest that we look back with pride and compare it to a time of national celebration is tasteless and offensive. He should apologize.
Earlier, Bethell admitted that the government had “struggled” to get a list of all nursing homes in the UK at the start of the crisis. Ministers have been severely criticized for their failure to stop the virus from spreading to nursing homes during the spring peak in infections.
Bethell also revealed that the government did not anticipate an increase in demand for Covid-19 tests when children returned to school en masse in September.
He added, “I think going back to school caught us off guard and there was a very understandable concern on the part of schools and then parents to have children tested. This resolved dramatically and we are very committed to keeping the schools open. But schools and parents, I think, got the message and we now prioritize testing much more clearly.
Later, Bethell explained how a theoretical ‘pregnancy test’ type device could be used to determine if a person has Covid-19 on a daily basis to get them through their day.
He said: “If you brush your teeth and take a test early in the morning and it’s negative, you have a good chance – and we’re trying to develop the science around it – of not being positive today. or tomorrow . And that means you’re allowed – and I think on is the key word here – to maybe go to the pub, go to the theater, go to areas where social distancing is problematic.
“Even if the test is not 100%, if it drastically reduces the chain of transmission, it will have a huge impact.”