London, May 27 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom’s prime minister Boris Johnson came under pressure from politicians to explain his decision to stand by a top advisor accused of breaking lockdown rules as the number of Covid-19 deaths Wednesday rose by 412.
The Conservative Party leader dismissed calls to launch an inquiry into the actions of Dominic Cummings, who drove 418 kilometers (260 miles) from London to a family property in Durham during the lockdown, news of which prompted widespread anger in the UK.
During a liaison meeting with the heads of parliamentary committees broadcast live on TV, Johnson apologized for the “pain” caused by the row but insisted it was time to “move on” from the topic.
Yvette Cooper from the opposition Labour Party said by defending Cummings’ actions, the prime minister was “political concerns above clear public health messages.”
Conservative Party member Simon Hoare suggested that the public would be less inclined to follow lockdown rules in the wake of the incident, which has dominated UK headlines for several days.
Cummings said he decided to make the trip when he and his wife became concerned about childcare options in the case that both of them contracted Covid-19.
He also admitted to making a 96-km round trip to a nearby castle with his wife and child, but insisted he was testing his eyesight before driving back to London.
UK media have run stories alleging he broke the lockdown on several occasions.
Johnson on Wednesday dismissed some of them as false and said he has seen evidence confirming that. When pressed, he said he would not make that evidence public.
Cummings, credited with masterminding the Brexit campaign, had been in close contact with Johnson just before the prime minister became seriously ill with Covid-19.
While the controversy around Cummings simmered on, the government unveiled a new test and trace service designed to get a clearer picture of the coronavirus situation in the UK, the deadliest hotspot in Europe.
It incorporates a system that will alert people who have been in contact with others who have tested positive for coronavirus, in which case they will be asked to isolate at home for 14 days.
So far, 37,460 people have died from coronavirus in the UK, according to the department of social care.
A total of 267,240 have tested positive since the outbreak began, although authorities have said the country is past the peak. EFE