Sajid Javid under fire for suggesting people have 'cowered' from Covid-19

24 July 2021, 17:08 | Updated: 25 July 2021, 11:42

Sajid Javid says he has fully recovered from coronavirus
Sajid Javid says he has fully recovered from coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been criticised for saying people must no longer "cower" from coronavirus.

Shadow justice secretary and LBC presenter David Lammy said he had "insulted" people who followed the rules to protect others, while the Lib Dems demanded he apologise to vulnerable people who have shielded from the disease.

Mr Javid, who tested positive a week ago after receiving two doses of the vaccine, revealed on Saturday that he had made full recovery

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He urged people to get their jabs after reporting he experienced only "very mild" symptoms.

He added on Twitter: "Please, if you haven't yet, get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus."

Mr Lammy joined a chorus of people on social media questioning his use of the word cower.

"129,000 Brits have died from Covid under your Government's watch," the Labour MP wrote.

"Don't denigrate people for trying to keep themselves and their families safe."

Lib Dem health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said Mr Javid's tweet was "outrageous" while thousands remain in hospital with Covid.

"His careless words have insulted every man, woman and child who has followed the rules and stayed at home to protect others," she said in a statement.

"He owes them all, especially the millions who are shielding, an apology."

Co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Jo Goodman said his "comments are deeply insensitive on a number of levels".

"Not only are they hurtful to bereaved families, implying our loved ones were too cowardly to fight the virus, but they insult all those still doing their best to protect others from the devastation this horrific virus can bring," she added.

"Words matter and the flippancy and carelessness of this comment has caused deep hurt and further muddied the waters of the Government's dangerously mixed messaging."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were forced to self-isolate following Mr Javid’s positive test, despite initially trying to avoid this.

The pair said they would participate in a daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue to work from Downing Street.

But just hours later, amid widespread public criticism, they pulled a full U-turn, withdrawing from the pilot scheme and confirming they would isolate.

Mr Johnson's quarantine in his Chequers country residence is expected to end late on Monday, as is Mr Sunak's.

Mr Javid became health secretary at the end of June when Matt Hancock stepped down after being caught on camera kissing an aide, in breach of coronavirus rules.

The successor has been seen as more strongly in favour of lifting coronavirus restrictions and most remaining legal rules in England were ended on Monday.