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Boris Johnson has refused to apologise to care home owners left furious by his apparent attempt to blame them for deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.
Downing Street sidestepped repeated questions on whether the prime minister regretted his remark that “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have”.
The National Care Association called on Johnson to formally retract his comments and one care home chief launched a withering attack on his “cowardly” “travesty of leadership” over the Covid crisis.
Asked if the PM regretted his words, his spokesperson instead tried to clarify his comments, claiming that he had been referring to the little that was known about the virus’s spread in the community.
“He was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were at the time. Nobody knew the correct procedures to put in place were at the time, because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known. We’re learning about this virus all the time,” the spokesperson said.
Asked why the PM hadn’t actually said that, the spokesperson said: “I have nothing more to add.”
Asked again if he would apologise, the spokesman said: “As I’ve just set out, the PM thinks that throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.”
Put to him that No.10 was not offering any apology and was suggesting that everyone simply misunderstood Johnson’s words, he said: “I have been very clear.
“We have put in place a comprehensive action plan to protect care homes, including rigorous testing, and additional funding.”
No.10 added that “care homes across the country have been doing their utmost” to keep residents safe “in the most challenging circumstances”. “And it remains the case that almost 60% of care homes have not had an outbreak at...