Isabel Oakeshott has accused politicians of “laughing and joking about locking us up” during the pandemic. The journalist, who leaked 100,000 WhatsApp messages between Government ministers to the Telegraph, hit out at the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The controversial message leak saw Ms Oakeshott hand over the messages to the Telegraph after being given them by former Health Secretary Matt Hancock while the pair were writing a book together.
Speaking to the BBC about her decision to leak the messages, Ms Oakeshott said she hopes it will “change policy” going forward.
She added: “Never again, will we be locked down or subjected to this kind of treatment, while politicians laughed and joked about locking us up in horrible hotels and charging us for the benefit.”
Ms Oakeshott was referring to the policy of confining people to “lockdown hotels” in order to enforce quarantine after travellers returned from trips abroad.
The WhatsApp messages suggest Mr Hancock rejected advice to give Covid tests to all residents going into English care homes.
They show Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty told the then Health Secretary in April 2020 there should be testing for “all going into care homes”.
But the messages suggest Mr Hancock did not follow the guidance, telling an aide the move “muddies the waters”.
He introduced mandatory testing for those entering care homes from hospitals, but not from the community until later.
Mr Hancock expressed concerns that expanding care home testing could “get in the way” of the target of 100,000 daily coronavirus tests he was desperate to hit, according to the messages.
In one message, Mr Hancock said Sir Chris had finished a review and recommended “testing of all going into care homes, and segregation whilst awaiting result”.
The then Health Secretary described it as “obviously a good positive step”.
However, the investigation said he later responded to an aide: “Tell me if I’m wrong but I would rather leave it out and just commit to test & isolate ALL going into care from hospital. I do not think the community commitment adds anything and it muddies the waters.”
Matt Hancock is “considering all options” over the leaked messages, hitting back at what he branded a “distorted account” on his handling of care home testing in the pandemic.
A spokesman for the West Suffolk MP said: “It is outrageous that this distorted account of the pandemic is being pushed with partial leaks, spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda, which would have cost hundreds of thousands of lives if followed.”
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