“And we have been deliberate in our actions so that we take the right steps at the right time.”

Dominic Raab, Press Briefing

April 22, 2020

Facts

The term “right steps at the right time” was now becoming a stock phrase at government meetings. Business secretary Alok Sharma had said the same five days earlier, as had Matt Hancock on 11 April 2020. For analysis, see under them.

The government has been widely criticised for its slow response to lockdown, which was introduced over 53 days after the initial outbreak. In particular, Cheltenham Festival was allowed to continue when other countries had already introduced strict lockdown measures. 

Countries which locked down earlier than the UK have already seen their case levels drop and had lower peaks than the UK. Of course, there are a number of factors that contribute to nations’ individual caseloads and death tolls - however, former scientific adviser to the government, said that the government could have saved 20,000 lives by locking down a week earlier.

Beyond lockdown, there can be no doubt the government failed to take the right measures at the right time. 

On the subject of testing, Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance suggested his colleagues at Public Health England had failed to increase testing as quickly as was needed to control the spread of the virus. Vallance admitted the rollout on testing had been too slow and added that it needs to go beyond only testing NHS workers but “to look at outbreaks and isolate”, as has been successful in places like Germany and South Korea. 

At the daily government press conference on 14 April 2020, from Public Health England, was far more honest in her appraisal of how the response had been handled, saying, "undoubtedly we perhaps could have done things differently." 

Verdict

Raab repeated the assertion made by Sharma and Hancock before him. The facts undermine him.

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