Matt Hancock: what do the leaked WhatsApp messages reveal?

Many allegations have been made against Matt Hancock, the UK’s health secretary, based on the contents of a trove of over 100,000 stolen WhatsApp conversations that reveal how the UK government handled the pandemic’s peak.

Among these is the allegation that, as health secretary, he disregarded the recommendation of Prof. Sir Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer of England, to do Covid-19 testing on all new residents of English care facilities. Hancock insists that he did not ignore medical advice. A representative for the company stated that the statement was completely false.

Which main argument is being made?

According to the exchanged texts, Whitty recommended testing for “everyone heading into care facilities” in April of 2020. On 14 April 2020, Hancock informed his staff that Whitty had completed a “evidence review” and suggested “testing of everyone moving into care facilities, and segregation while awaiting outcome.

An assistant responded to Hancock’s request to “take action” after the latter claimed the recommendation was a “nice positive move” and that it should be written into the document.

Matt Hancock disputes claim he rejected care home Covid advice - BBC News
Source: BBC

The warning arrived the day before the release of the government’s Covid-19: Our Action Plan for Adult Social Care, which lays out measures to maintain the care sector throughout the epidemic.

The 14 April conversations, however, reveal that Hancock eventually rejected the recommendation, telling an adviser the move only “muddies the waters,” and instead implemented obligatory testing just for people coming from hospitals, rather than the population at large.

When asked whether he would “agree to test and segregate ALL moving into care from hospital,” Hancock indicated he would rather “leave out” a promise to screen anyone coming from the community.

Saying that “the community commitment adds nothing and muddies the waters,” he remarked.

About Matt Hancock’s reaction.

Care home testing is something Hancock was advised against doing since it is “not now viable,” thus the notion that he ignored such advice is “flat false,” according to a spokeswoman.

The official explained that Hancock made the about-face after learning in an operational meeting that testing everyone entering care facilities was impossible.

“These stolen texts have been doctored to construct a false tale that Matt disregarded clinical advise on care home testing,” the representative stated. Totally incorrect.

The spokeswoman claimed Hancock “enthusiastically welcomed” Whitty’s recommendation, but “later that day he held an operational meeting on delivering testing for care homes” when he was told it was impossible to test everyone entering care homes.

Given the increased danger of transmission, Matt reasoned that it was more important than ever to screen those leaving hospitals for nursing homes. Yet, requiring all nursing home residents to be screened was impossible.

On August 14, 2020, new regulations went into effect mandating testing for all residents entering nursing homes. Hundreds of residents of English nursing homes succumbed to the Covid virus between April 2020 and August 2020.

In the past, Hancock has stated that he immediately began placing a “protective ring around care facilities” when the pandemic was declared.

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