The comments have been widely condemned, though Johnson refused to directly apologise at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday. It prompted an angry exchange with Starmer.
The Labour leader said: “More than 19,000 care home residents have died from COVID-19. It’s a far higher number when you include excess deaths.
“Overall, around one in 20 care home residents are estimated to have died from the virus – it’s chilling.
“These are extraordinary numbers, yet the PM has consistently ducked responsibility for this.”
Starmer called on Johnson to “accept it isn’t care workers who are to blame – it’s his government”.
Johnson said he has “made it absolutely clear that this government takes responsibility for everything that we’ve done throughout this crisis”.
However, the PM had earlier refused to directly apologise to care workers for his comments on Monday.
He said: “The last thing I wanted to do is to blame care workers for what has happened or for any of them to think that I was blaming them because they’ve worked hard, incredibly hard, throughout this crisis, looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our country and doing an outstanding job.”
Starmer said Johnson’s answer was “not an apology and it just won’t wash”.
Conservative MPs are among those who have criticised Johnson’s government over its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in care homes.
One, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, branded the government “reckless” and “negligent” last month, claiming the care sector was treated as a “forgotten cousin”.
He pointed to the fact the government only published an adult social care action plan on 15 April.
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