Wednesday, May 19, 2021

UK govt “lacked plan” for pandemic despite claim it was “well-prepared”

An inquiry into how the UK government handled the coronavirus pandemic, though one has been promised, but it has already been revealed that the Government was under-prepared for the emergence of the pandemic and lacked a 'playbook' for dealing with key events that unfolded including mass school closures.

A new report [PDF] published by the National Audit Office criticised a lack of readiness for the emergence of COVID-19 - also known as SARS-CoV2 - despite frequent warnings in recent years that such a medical crisis could emerge.

"Like many countries, the UK was not as prepared for the pandemic as it could have been, and the government lacked detailed contingency plans to manage the unfolding situation," the report states.

This contradicts the government's own health secretary, Matt Hancock, who in January 2020, just as it was clear that a pandemic was on its way, claimed that Britain was "well-prepared" for such an outbreak.

"The public can be assured that the whole of the UK is always well-prepared for these types of outbreaks and will remain vigilant and keep our response under constant review in the light of emerging scientific evidence," the health secretary told the UK parliament on 23rd of January.

The National Audit Office report is not the first to conclude the UK was not prepared enough for a pandemic.

Last year, it was revealed a secret Whitehall document produced in 2017 had warned the government's plans for dealing with a health pandemic were "not sufficient" [Sky News].

It said contingencies worked up in the case of an outbreak would not be able to cope and concerns were also raised about whether the social care system could provide the level of support needed.

The report comes as the government continued to give out mixed messages concerning the lifting of travel restrictions and the lifting of lockdown rules while concerns grow over the spread of the so-called Indian variant B.1.617. [New Statesman / Sky News / BBC]

With criticism already mounting over the government's slow response to adding India to the red travel list it seems the UK seems likely to repeat all the same mistakes made in the early days of the pandemic.

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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