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Johnson's handling of pandemic 'chaotic' and 'all over the place' - Welsh Health Minister
30 July 2021, 19:45 | Updated: 30 July 2021, 19:52
Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan has told LBC that the UK Government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic in England has been "chaotic" and "all over the place".
The comments come as the Welsh First Minister announced that Wales' easing of self-isolation rules would come into force on 7 August - nine days earlier than England's.
"If they want to continue with their chaotic approach to the way they're dealing with this pandemic they just need to follow the lead of Boris Johnson who has, frankly, been all over the place during this pandemic," said Ms Morgan when asked by LBC reporter Daniel Bevan whether Boris Johnson should bring the change forward.
She added: "It's up to England what they do but they are slightly further behind us when it comes to vaccination, and their rates of Covid are much, much higher than ours are."
In response, a government spokesperson said: “Since the start of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice.
“We have delivered the fastest vaccination rollout in Europe, saved millions of jobs through the furlough scheme and prevented the NHS from being overwhelmed through three national lockdowns.
“The Government is entirely focused on emerging cautiously from the pandemic, building back better and delivering on the priorities of the people of this country.”
Boris Johnson has been falling under increasing pressure to bring forward the change to self-isolation rules, which will see fully-jabbed adults no longer needing to self-isolate when identified as a Covid contact as long as they test negative.
Currently the change is scheduled for 16 August, but the 'pingdemic' and the announcement by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford on Thursday have prompted Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to challenge the Government to make it earlier.
When asked if Keir Starmer was wrong to demand this change, Ms Morgan said: "It's up to Boris Johnson to determine how to do it but what we've done in Wales is to make sure that things are in place before making an announcement and that is the key difference between us and the way that they are adjusting things in England."
She added: "We are trying to follow the science and the advisers who are letting us know constantly about the balance of harms that we have to assess as well - it's not just the dangers from Covid but there are dangers from other things, mental health and the dangers to the economy as well."
So far the Prime Minister has resisted the pressure to change the date.
Speaking exclusively to LBC on Tuesday, he insisted the change in England is "nailed on" from August 16.
Sir Keir, however, has since questioned why England should have a later timeline than Wales, saying this risks creating more pain for families and businesses.
"This has been a summer of chaos for British businesses and British families," Sir Keir said in a statement.
"The Tory government has never been able to explain the logic of their self-isolation rules and has just repeated the same mistakes over and over again.
"While the British public have been trying to do the right thing, we saw this Government's instincts when Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak tried to avoid the isolation millions have had to endure.
"The Government's slapdash approach to this global pandemic is crippling our economy and creating real problems for businesses and families alike.
"Welsh Labour has shown what can be done and it's time for the Tories to do the same."