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A&E doctor says confusion over Cummings’ Durham journey could ‘cost lives’

PUBLISHED: 14:19 24 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:59 24 May 2020

Anger has erupted after it emerged Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief advisor Dominic Cummings flouted the government's own lockdown rules  Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Anger has erupted after it emerged Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief advisor Dominic Cummings flouted the government's own lockdown rules Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

An A&E doctor who warned of the dangers of breaking lockdown says under fire Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings should resign.

Prime minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” as the country was ordered into lockdown.

But it has emerged his right hand man Mr Cummings made a 260-mile trip from London to stay with family in Durham at the height of the pandemic.

Mr Johnson has pledged his “full support” to his chief adviser, who travelled to the north-east with his child after his wife became ill with suspected coronavirus. The government said he did so to ensure he had childcare if he too fell ill.

The doctor, who works at a Norfolk hospital, spoke out last week about the dangers of flouting the rules.

MORE - Doctor warns: ‘You’re risking second coronavirus peak’

Today, they added: “Yes he should resign, he has no choice if they are truly acknowledging the risk to life here.

“During the lockdown so many people sacrificed so much to obey social distancing. Families splitting up temporarily because key workers who were working in a high risk environment and so did not want their loved ones at risk. People have gone months not seeing close loved ones including young children, in order to protect them from the threat of coronavirus.

“To see now that one man’s behaviours are being defended by the government, going against everything so many have stuck to at such personal sacrifice, is an insult to the NHS key workers and the entire nation who have complied this far recognising the fight for life.

“The sad reality is that people have died all over the country alone, have had funerals without family present, have too had the virus at home with their children in absolute fear of whether they will be able to care for them, or worse if their child may catch it.”

Several Conservative MPs have come out in support of Mr Cummings, denying that his actions were a breach of the rules.

And a Number 10 spokesman said on Saturday that the trip was made to “ensure his young child could be properly cared for”.

But the doctor said parents across the country were “seething with rage” over Mr Cummings’s actions.

“For someone in such a position, ignorance is no defence, he knew full well the risks he was taking. Travelling across the country with a young child he must have stopped at a service station. He travelled and risked the lives of the family to which he was travelling to.

“Every object he touched in public while infective risked the lives of anyone close to him. There can not be a defence of his actions.

“I have had to tell loved ones their parent is going to die, and that they can’t see them before it happens. Thousands have died in hospital beds without their family, not alone because healthcare staff are trying their hardest to fill in as we are all heartbroken when this occurs.”

The doctor said staff at their hospital had spent months living apart from their families to protect them from the risk of infection.

MORE - What do Norfolk’s MPs think about Mr Cummings flouting the rules?

“So when Dominic Cummings was positive and took a step out of his door to travel he was not only breaking his own rules, but he was risking lives of those he was travelling to, those he went near every time he left his house or car, and compromising bed numbers potentially at a hospital where he did not live.

“To now show no remorse or acknowledgement for the severity of his actions or situations, sends a selfish hostile message to the country, as does anyone defending his actions.”

They added: “The situation reminds me of the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and how all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

“How this is handled I fear will influence other attitudes towards the rules, which ultimately affects how and when our country recover from this. He has endangered lives, disobeyed the law and disrespected the country’s efforts, now creating divide and confusion that could cost lives.”

No 10’s full statement from Saturday morning said:

A Number 10 spokesman said on Saturday morning: “Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.

“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed.

“His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.

“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.

“His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”


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