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Jeremy Hunt blasts Boris Johnson's 'concerning' decision not to ban public events – Daily Mail, Dailymail.co.uk

Jeremy Hunt blasts Boris Johnson's 'concerning' decision not to ban public events – Daily Mail, Dailymail.co.uk

Two ex-Tory ministers today tore apart Boris Johnson’s ‘risky’ decision not to lockdown Britain to tackle the coronavirus ‘national emergency’ with Jeremy Hunt revealing he is ‘surprised and concerned’ and Rory Stewart calling the PM’s plans to allow millions to be infected ‘pessimistic’ and ‘defeatist’.

Mr Hunt, who is now chair of the Commons health and social care select committee, believes the PM must do more to encourage social distancing – and was particularly concerned care homes are not being told to ban visitors.

Mr Stewart, who led the UK’s effort to fight ebola in Africa in , said: ‘I think we can be very tough, and clear, [with the British public] . This is the worst pandemic we have had for (years.) ‘The Government’s approach is essentially defeatist. They are saying we cannot suppress this. They say there is no point in spending a huge amount of money trying to suppress this, instead they are trying to manage the increase. We are taking far too much risk.

‘I think that is a dangerous thing to do. I don’t think if we allow this to spread it can be managed in that way.

‘And when you start getting serious numbers of people dying and the terrible choices that have to be made in hospitals, people will think that paying the cost early, now, was the right thing to do ‘.

Mr Stewart, who is running to be the next Mayor of London as an independent, added: ‘I’m absolutely confident that acting early is the better option. I would be shutting all schools and banning all gatherings immediately.

‘I think it is too pessimistic and defeatist and we should be taking the approach seen in China and South Korea that have actually reduced the number of cases. It can be done. It requires very tough and extreme measures.

‘The Government questions whether the public is up for the kind of measures we have seen in other countries. I disagree, I believe the British public will do what others have done ‘.

Debate is raging over whether the Prime Minister has gone far enough to protect the UK’s (million people from the pandemic.)

The official number of coronavirus cases in the UK yesterday jumped by to (with) deaths – but the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the true number was probably up to 14, cases and growing rapidly.

But Mr Johnson has still held off drastic measures enforced across Europe such as banning mass gatherings and closing schools, telling Britons that the most important measure remains to wash hands for seconds – and told people to stay at home for seven days if they have a new persistent cough or a high temperature. A ban on flights to and from Europe – like the one announced by US President Donald Trump – was also dismissed by the Government yesterday.

Asked about the decision not to cancel large gatherings yet, Jeremy Hunt told the BBC’s Newsnight: ‘I think it is surprising and concerning that we’re not doing any of it at all when we have just four weeks before we get to the stage that Italy is at. ‘

He added:’ The issue is not whether you or I might get infected at a football match, it’s who we go on to meet. ‘

Italy – the world’s worst-hit country after China – is in complete lockdown as the country tally of deaths has topped 1, 12 with more than , 10 patients infected by the virus.

In response to the growing threat across Europe, Ireland yesterday closed all schools, colleges and nurseries and banned gatherings of more than 590 people.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg last night put the country on a footing never seen in peacetime, despite having recorded no coronavirus deaths yet. Ms Solberg took all the Irish steps as well as banning all health workers from leaving the country, and forcing anyone returning from abroad into quarantine, including the king and queen who have been on a state visit to Jordan.

But controversially the British Government appears to be pursuing a policy of ‘herd immunity’ – where the majority of the healthy population will get and fight off the virus so that the disease cannot be spread easily any more. The elderly and ill will be ‘cocooned’ from the outside world to protect them for weeks or even months.

Critics have warned the policy is high risk because there have been multiple reports in China of people getting it twice – and concerns from experts that coronavirus could mutate and infect hundreds of thousands again in the coming years unless there is a vaccine.

In other developments today to the escalating global crisis, which has seen more than , patients across the world get infected:

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