Matt Hancock has formally denied the claim from Dominic Cummings that he incorrectly promised people discharged from hospitals to care homes were being tested for Covid at the start of the pandemic, saying: “No, I did not.”
The rejection, after lengthy questioning on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, follows the health secretary’s previous refusal to deny explicitly the claim in the Commons and at a Downing Street press conference, a day after Cummings’ explosive claims to MPs.
But in an indication of Hancock’s likely approach when he is quizzed by the same parliamentary committee on Thursday, he argued that Cummings had not in fact accused him of wrongly claiming tests were already being done in March last year – only that they would happen when testing capacity was available.
The new Delta variant of coronavirus appears to be about 40% more transmissible than the variant it has largely replaced, Matt Hancock has said, making government decisions about whether to ease restrictions in England on 21 June “more difficult”.
Saying that under-30s will be called to begin vaccinations from next week, the health secretary confirmed it was still possible the reopening programme could be delayed or some rules kept in place.
“We consider all options,” he told Sky News.