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Jeremy Corbyn claims Boris Johnson's 'poor communication' has made coronavirus crisis worse

The Labour leader hit out at the Prime Minister's communications strategy.

4 min read

Boris Johnson's "poor communication" has undermined public confidence in the UK's coronavirus response, Jeremy Corbyn has claimed.

The Labour leader told the Prime Minister it was time for "greater transparency in the Government’s approach to tackling the outbreak", as he demanded fresh support for workers and firms affected by the disease's spread.

Mr Johnson has begun holding daily press conferences on measures to combat Covid-19, which has so far claimed the lives of 55 Brits, and on Monday announced a series of tougher measures to tackle the outbreak.

The move to recommend the end of all "non-essential contact", cancel unnecessary travel and consider working from home came in response to fresh advice which suggested the country could be on course for 250,000 deaths without a change of course.

Labour said that Mr Corbyn, who held talks with the Prime Minister on Monday night, had promised to "hold the Government to account to ensure no one is left behind during the coronavirus outbreak".

A party spokesperson said: “Jeremy Corbyn will ask the Government to recognise this as the critical moment to invest in public services and to introduce urgent financial support for those affected by the Coronavirus.

"The Labour leader will also reiterate the need for greater transparency in the Government’s approach to tackling the outbreak, saying the Government’s poor communication over the weekend has increased public concerns."

The Labour spokesperson said Mr Corbyn would also be pushing for "greater transparency on the policy decisions being made by the Government" and would demand detail on proposals to "increase testing, and for increased provision of vital equipment such as ventilators and acute beds".

Mr Johnson and Cabinet minister Michael Gove held talks with over 60 manfucturing firms and organisations on Monday night as he urged them to "help the UK step up production of vital medical equipment, such as ventilators".

Downing Street said the Prime Minister had urged companies to "manufacture as many new ventilators as possible" in a bid to help the NHS, with officials sharing clinical and design specifications for the life-saving equipment.

"A number of companies are already engaged in the effort and exploring how they can best support," Number 10 added.

"The Prime Minister also set out that the Government will do everything we can to support businesses during this difficult time."

But Mr Corbyn has urged the Government to go further, with a call to let those affected by coronavirus defer rent and mortgage payments and "full sick pay and lost earnings protection from day one for all workers" during self-isolation and illness.

Rishi Sunak is expected to unveil fresh measures to support the economy on Tuesday, with the Chancellor saying the Government was "doing everything we can to keep this country, and our people, healthy and financially secure".

He added: "As I said at Budget we will do what is needed to support the economy and business, and are working rapidly to provide more support."


The call came as a fresh report by a team of experts advising the Government on its coronavirus strategy said the UK had realised "in the last few days" that its attempts to "mitigate" the impact of the coronavirus pandemic would be ineffective.

The findings by the Imperial College Covid-19 Response Team - which are believed to have contributed to Monday's ramping up of the Government response - suggest that a strategy of isolating suspect cases but not imposing restrictions on wider society would "likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over".

They added: "Our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over."

The team of researchers predicted that continuing with the "mitigate" approach could lead to as many as 250,000 deaths in the UK, but that the "social distancing" measures now in place to reduce that figure to the thousands.

They also warned that the restrictions on movement could last for over a year as the world tries to find a vaccine for the disease.

Neil Ferguson on Imperial College said: "We may well be ending up in a really quite different world for at least a year or more. Really, the only exit strategy long-term from this is vaccination or other forms of innovative technology."

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