Boris Johnson is not offering an apology or formal retraction for his claim that some care homes “didn’t really follow the procedures” to protect residents and staff from coronavirus, Downing Street has indicated.
The prime minister sparked outrage by appearing to blame care home operators for the huge toll of almost 20,000 fatalities from Covid-19 in their properties.
But his official spokesman dodged repeated questions at a media briefing this morning over whether the PM would apologise or withdraw his comments.
Instead, the spokesman several times repeated a statement issued by Downing Street last night as fury erupted over his comments.
Asked to explain the high death figures in care homes during a visit to Yorkshire on Monday, Mr Johnson said: “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have.”
Mark Adams, who runs the charity Community Integrated Care, told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme the prime minister's comments were "cowardly" and a "travesty of leadership".
Mr Adams added: "If this is genuinely his view, I think we're almost entering a Kafkaesque alternative reality where the government sets the rules, we follow them, they don't like the results, they then deny setting the rules and blame the people that were trying to do their best."
The National Care Forum said Mr Johnson's remarks were “totally inappropriate” and "hugely insulting" to care workers.
Forum executive director Vic Rayner said that care homes had followed the guidance "to the letter" but the government's attention was focused on hospitals.
Asked whether the PM would apologise or retract his statement, his spokesman said only: “Throughout the pandemic, care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances.
“The PM was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time.”