Health minister: Boris Johnson ‘set a very clear strategy’

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Health minister Edward Argar has denied that Boris Johnson’s coronavirus hospitalisation has left a “power vacuum” in government.

The Prime Minister spent a second night in intensive care last night, but is said to be stable and in “good spirits” as he fights Covid-19.

With Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stepping in as deputy Prime Minister “where necessary”, Mr Argar said the government was “united” behind Mr Johnson’s plan.

“He set a very clear strategy for this government. He’s still the Prime Minister and he’s asked while he’s in hospital that Dom, who is an extremely able colleague, deputises for him on that. So I don’t see any vacuum or anything like that,” he told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer.

Mr Johnson had been due to oversee a three-week review of the UK's lockdown rules - brought in last month to curb the spread of the disease - next Monday, but ministers said it was still too soon to ease restrictions.

Mr Argar said that meanwhile, scientist were working “flat out” to develop a new coronavirus test.

The antibody test - which would determine whether you have had the virus - has been described as a “game changer” in the battle against the pandemic, but has so far proved difficult to produce

Mr Argar said the tests themselves had to be rigorously tested, echoing experts in saying “no test is better than a bad test”.

“If a test is put in place and it doesn’t do the job and is not reliable it could create a false sense of security so you’ve got to test the tests to make sure they work.

“That can be a process that takes a bit of time, that’s frustrating for everyone because we want to get on with it but it’s important that the scientists can get on with their work and say we’ve got something that really works.”

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