Boris Johnson pledged the government will keep releasing information about the location of new coronavirus cases today after plans to throttle the release of details sparked uproar.
He used an appearance on UTV’s This Morning to try to assuage fears, after the Department of Health and Social Care said it would ‘no longer be tweeting information on the location of each new case’.
The move sparked criticism from people who wanted to know which areas to avoid to keep themselves and vulnerable relatives fit and well.
Asked if the Government was withholding information about the spread of the coronavirus, Mr Johnson said: ‘No, not at all.
Boris Johnson used an appearance on This Morning to try to assuage fears, saying ‘I am with you and we are putting it all out there’
Prof Chris Whitty was pressed on suggestions the government will not provide daily geographical information after a sharp rise in cases
‘Let me clear that up immediately because it is very important that we are transparent, people understand that we are transparent.
‘Public Health England needs to be absolutely sure about the diagnosis of these cases so what they are doing is they are immediately identifying the region where they think there’s an incidence and then within 24 hours confirming the exact location to be sure that we have got the right thing.’
Officials had been accused of ‘secrecy’ after the new arrangements were mooted, with claims the public should be given as much information as possible so they could protect themselves.
Authorities in Singapore reveal the exact street where each case is diagnosed.
But the DHSC yesterday tweeted: ‘As of today, due to the number of new cases, we will no longer be tweeting information on the location of each new case.
‘Instead, this information will be released centrally in a consolidated format online, once a week.
‘We are working on this now and plan to share on Friday.’
Pressed on this, Mr Johnson told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: ‘I am with you and we are putting it all out there’.
He added: ‘We are putting it out as far as we can, we want to over-communicate with the public.’
The Department of Health and Social Care sparked uproar with a tweet suggesting it would ‘no longer be tweeting information on the location of each new case’
Earlier England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty blamed a ‘communications fumble’, saying in fact the government will give details – although there might be a ‘short delay’ to get the facts correct if there are a large number of cases.
‘We are intending to provide geographical information. In fact in the medium term we will provide much more information with maps and a dashboard,’ he told MPs.
‘What we are intending to do is have some kind of delay to make sure we have got the details right…
‘What we don’t want to do is give people incorrect information.’