On 24 July, health secretary Sajid Javid suggested that the nation needs to not “cower” from coronavirus (Covid-19). Those who have lost loved ones to the virus have criticised Javid’s remarks as “deeply insensitive”.
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice joined opposition MPs in branding the Cabinet minister’s remark insulting to people who have shielded and those who stayed at home to protect society.
Javid said on Saturday 24 July that he had made a “full recovery”. He wrote on Twitter:
Please, if you haven’t yet, get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.
Co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Jo Goodman said Javid’s comments “are deeply insensitive on a number of levels”. She added:
Not only are they hurtful to bereaved families, implying our loved ones were too cowardly to fight the virus, but they insult all those still doing their best to protect others from the devastation this horrific virus can bring…
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Words matter and the flippancy and carelessness of this comment has caused deep hurt and further muddied the waters of the Government’s dangerously mixed messaging.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner also echoed the sentiment.
Moreover, Lib Dem health spokesperson Munira Wilson said Javid’s tweet was “outrageous” while thousands remain in hospital with coronavirus. She said in a statement:
His careless words have insulted every man, woman and child who has followed the rules and stayed at home to protect others…
He owes them all, especially the millions who are shielding, an apology.
‘Wanting to avoid COVID isn’t ‘cowering”
Public health expert Devi Sridhar also criticised Javid’s remarks:
This must be painful to read for those who were severely ill & for those who lost loved ones to COVID. It wasn’t because they were weak- just unnecessarily exposed to a virus. And wanting to avoid getting COVID isn’t ‘cowering’- it’s being sensible & looking out for others. https://t.co/y3nKAENDZe
— Prof. Devi Sridhar (@devisridhar) July 24, 2021
The professor at the University of Edinburgh wrote:
It wasn’t because they were weak, just unnecessarily exposed to a virus.
And wanting to avoid getting Covid isn’t ‘cowering’ – it’s being sensible & looking out for others.
Javid tested positive for coronavirus on 17 July. The news ultimately sent prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak into isolation as contacts.
As of 22 July, 5,001 coronavirus patients were in hospital in the UK, with 917 admitted on 20 July alone. And confirmed cases have risen at an average of around 40,417 daily over the past week.
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