Britain’s Health Minister on Wednesday said he was left “speechless” by the resignation of a prominent adviser on the government’s COVID-19 response, who broke the country’s lockdown rules.
“I am speechless,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News after the resignation on Tuesday of Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London.
According to Hancock, Prof. Ferguson is a very eminent and impressive scientist and the science that he has done has been an important part of what we’ve listened to.
“I think he took the right decision to resign,’’ he said.
Hancock said Britain’s social-distancing rules were “there for everyone; they are incredibly important and they are deadly serious.”
The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that Ferguson had allowed his “married lover to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social-distancing.
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“I accept I made an error of judgement and took the wrong course of action.
“I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.
“I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social-distancing to control this devastating epidemic,’’ Ferguson told the newspaper.
The resignation came amid growing pressure on Hancock and other ministers in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government about their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, Britain overtook Italy to record Europe’s highest death toll linked to the virus.