World Health Secretary Sajid Javid apologises for saying people should no longer 'cower from' COVID
Warnings grow about staff forced to self-isolate
Alarm mounts over fears of a "surge" in workers and medical staff forced to quarantine after being "pinged".There were new calls for the government to review plans not to ease isolation rules in England before 16 August.
The health secretary has apologised for saying people should no longer "cower from" coronavirus.
Sajid Javid said he had deleted the tweet, which he posted on Saturday to say he had made a "full recovery" a week after testing positive for COVID-19.
"I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society, but it was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologise," he said.
"Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact."
Mr Javid's initial tweet drew criticism for being insensitive to those who had stayed home during the pandemic due to health conditions or in an effort to protect others.
Ministers wait to hear if they face quarantine
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who has tested positive for Covid, is isolating and working from home.It is understood Mr Javid had a meeting with the prime minister on Friday, hours before he started feeling unwell.
Jo Goodman, co-founder of COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said the health secretary's comments were "deeply insensitive on a number of levels".
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Video: Health Secretary Sajid Javid Reveals He's 'Tested Positive' For Coronavirus Despite Having Both Jabs And Is Self-isolating (Birmingham Mail)
"Not only are they hurtful to bereaved families, implying our loved ones were too cowardly to fight the virus, but they insult all those still doing their best to protect others from the devastation this horrific virus can bring," she said.
Frontline health workers to be spared from isolation rules to tackle 'pingdemic' crisis as England lockdown lifts
Frontline health workers in England are to be spared self-isolation rules in an emergency move to tackle the "pingdemic" that has triggered an NHS staffing crisis. © Sky News Screen Grab The NHS has been struggling with staffing as many health workers are isolating at home Coinciding with the lifting of most mandatory lockdown restrictions in England, fully vaccinated NHS and social care staff may not have to isolate if they are pinged by the COVID-19 app.
Reacting to the apology, the campaign group said it welcomed Mr Javid's remarks and repeated an earlier call for him to visit the COVID memorial wall in London with them to "understand the hurt and insult" caused by his "poor choice of word".
Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said the remarks would be "painful to read for those who were severely ill" and those who lost loved ones to COVID.
Critical workers to avoid close contact isolation
People performing "critical" tasks including air traffic controllers will be exempt under new rules.Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told MPs the change in isolation rules would happen shortly in England, with letters due to be sent to those eligible.
"It wasn't because they were weak, just unnecessarily exposed to a virus," she said.
In a statement released before Mr Javid's apology, Labour's Vicky Foxcroft said his tweet was "offensive and ill-informed".
"More than 1 in 60 people in the UK are estimated to still be shielding. In the first and second waves more than three million people shielded at the request of the government," the shadow minister for disabled people said.
"Most have been happy to do this as we know this has kept us safe."
Mr Javid replaced Matt Hancock as health secretary in June, after Mr Hancock resigned following the publication of CCTV footage that showed him kissing an aide in breach of coronavirus restrictions.
Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading -. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and . Only if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In , call your GP.
Infection rates rise across most of UK - but 'possible signs' of slowing in England .
Infection rates have continued to rise across England, Wales and Northern Ireland - but dropped in Scotland, according to the latest estimates. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in the week ending 24 July, approximately 1 in 65 people were estimated to have had COVID-19 in England.The rate was around 1 in 65 people in Northern Ireland, and around 1 in 160 Wales.Meanwhile, the percentage of people testing positive in Scotland dropped in that week - around 1 in 110 people had COVID.