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14 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Former health secretary Hunt admits past failings on testing capacity

By Samuel Horti

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted he should have done more to build up the UK’s pandemic testing capacity while he was in the cabinet.

Hunt became health secretary under David Cameron and went on to serve in Theresa May’s cabinet. He told the BBC the government had been “over-focused on pandemic flu, and not on pandemic Sars-like viruses” in the past.

He suggested that if the government had concentrated more on testing capacity, the UK could have avoided some coronavirus deaths.

“I think the practical thing that we can all see needed to have happened was to make sure that everyone discharged from hospitals into care homes was tested for Covid before they were sent to a care home. But because we didn’t have that testing capacity at the time, it wasn’t possible to do that,” he said.

“In retrospect, and I have responsibility for this as someone who was health secretary for six years, because we were over-focused on pandemic flu, and not on pandemic Sars-like viruses, we haven’t been thinking for some time about the importance of testing.

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“And had we done that, and that’s why I think transparency over scientific advice is so important, then maybe some of these things could have been avoided.”

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