Conservative Party chairman apologises for Covid deaths as calls for inquiry grow

By Jayke Brophy

A top Tory has apologised for Government Covid errors during the first wave that may have cost thousands of lives.

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said the Government was sorry for failures in the handling of coronavirus following a report into the pandemic suggesting that an earlier lockdown in March 2020 could have cut the 40,000 deaths from the first wave in half.

Mr Dowden apologised for the Government’s failings ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is yet to comment on the findings whilst away on holiday in Spain.

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Speaking to Sky News, the Tory chairman finally offered an apology for the errors in the Government’s pandemic response.

He said: "The PM apologised earlier this year for all the hurt and distress that all those families have suffered, and I share that and I offer that as well. It's been a terrible time for every family affected by this terrible virus.

"I welcome this report. It's a very good report by Greg Clark and Jeremy Hunt. The government will, as we do with all these reports, be fully analysing it and giving a full response to the recommendations.

"Yes of course I'm sorry, as the PM is sorry. I was just listening to the kind of experiences yesterday of those bereaved families and that kind of terrible loss they suffered and so many people have suffered, not just in this country but around the world from the Covid crisis.

“We’re sorry for the losses that those families have suffered.”

The Mirror reports that Jo Goodman, co-founder of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice urged the Government to bring forward the start of a promised inquiry into mistakes made during the pandemic.

Ms Goodman said: “This is the first time the Government has publicly apologised to us for the loss of our loved ones, and the acknowledgement of their responsibility is welcome.

“However, yesterday’s report only scratched the surface of what this country has been through over the past two years. It is clear that only through a full statutory inquiry will we learn the lessons needed to save lives in the future and answer the questions that will help bring closure to bereaved families.”

The select committee report into the Government’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, which suggests that an earlier first lockdown could have prevented around 20k deaths, has furthered the calls for an accelerated public inquiry.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth joined the voices calling for the inquiry, saying: “At every step ministers ignored warnings, responded with complacency and were too slow to act. We need a public inquiry now so mistakes of such tragic magnitude are never repeated again.”

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