Boris Johnson’s honeymoon with the electorate is over. Criticism of the COVID-19 crisis management has exploded in Downing Street. The British government defended itself on Monday against fierce accusations made in the press at the weekend that the Prime Minister had been absent during the initial phase of the outbreak, missing up to five meetings of the COBRA emergency committee.

After both the Financial Times and The Sunday Times published articles questioning his performance in the face of the pandemic, the Executive has issued an unusual statement assuring that the information was “false and misleading” that “distorts the enormous amount of work being done by the Government”.

Number 10 notes that since Johnson declared the fight against the coronavirus to be the government’s top priority at the end of February, ministers have been working to meet their objectives, at a time when there is a shortage of testing and protective equipment for health workers.

According to the latest official figures on Monday, the number of deaths in hospitals from COVID-19 in the UK has now reached 16,509. In the last 24 hours, 449 deaths have been recorded.

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