British government criticized for lack of tests and fans

Minister of State Michael Gove, Boris Johnson's right-hand man, at a coronavirus press conference in London on March 31. PIPPA FOWLES / AFP

Critics are mounting against the British government as it lines up confusion and failures in its equipment race against the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK recorded in one day on Wednesday 1er April, 563 additional deaths of patients affected by the virus, a new record marking a marked acceleration of the pandemic and bringing the toll to more than 2,000 deaths in the country. As for the government of Boris Johnson, itself in quarantine after being tested positive, it accumulates setbacks.

Misplaced ideology? Incompetence? Six days ago, Downing Street confirmed that it had not participated in the various European tenders for the group purchase of fans. "We have our own manufacturers, this is an area where we make our own efforts", said a spokesperson for the Prime Minister. However, it appears that the NHS, the British health system, only had 8,000 of these complex and expensive medical devices. They are essential in the fight against the disease because they make it possible to take over from the failing lungs in the most seriously affected patients.

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Until December 31, 2020, during the transition period following Brexit, there was nothing to prevent the United Kingdom from participating in these European tenders. London changed its version as soon as the blunder was revealed on March 26: if the United Kingdom did not participate in the tenders, it was not by nationalist reflex, but because the country "Did not receive the invitation in time to join the four joint tenders. (…) So we were unable to participate ". Emails would have been lost or never reached their recipients' mailboxes.

On the European side, we are a little surprised. "The United Kingdom is welcome if it wishes to participate in the joint tenders we are launching on behalf of European countries"repeated a Commission spokesperson the next day. "They have had the opportunity several times to express their interest in these tenders", continued the spokesman for the European executive. Out of twelve meetings of the "Health security committee" during which these tenders were discussed, the United Kingdom was present eight times. Starting with the meeting on January 31, the day London officially left the European institutions.

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