Former medical tsar Dame Sally Davies admits Britain was ill-prepared for Covid-19 and officials were caught by surprise
- Dame Sally Davies said country was ill-prepared for the coronavirus outbreak
- She claims government officials told her a virus from Asia wouldn’t travel this far
- Public Health England officials assured her the disease would never reach the UK in large numbers, she claimed
The UK’s former chief medical officer says the country was ill-prepared for Covid-19, and government officials told her a coronavirus from Asia would ‘never travel this far’.
Dame Sally Davies said she asked health experts whether the country should rehearse for an outbreak of a coronavirus in 2015.
The Public Health England officials assured her the disease would never reach the UK in large numbers, she claimed.
File photo from 2018 showing Chief medical officer for England Dame Sally Davies
Dame Sally, 70, is expected to accuse PHE of misleading the Government into practising for the ‘wrong pandemic’ at a public inquiry into Covid.
She told The Daily Telegraph: ‘We didn’t practise how to stop a coronavirus spreading because we were told by Public Health England that the next big one would be influenza, and they didn’t believe it could be stopped.
‘One day we will certainly get another flu pandemic, so we prepared for that, and I think we prepared well.
‘But none of the experts seemed to think a coronavirus would be relevant.’
In her first interview since handing over the job to Professor Chris Whitty in September last year, she added: ‘Compared to other countries, we’ve been found wanting.
In her first interview since handing over the job to Professor Chris Whitty in September last year, she added: ‘Compared to other countries, we’ve been found wanting’
‘We were not as well prepared as we should have been.
‘I think the public deserves to know everything.’
A PHE spokesman said: ‘The claim that PHE ignored threats other than flu is wrong.
‘Dame Sally Davies participated in exercises which planned specifically for a coronavirus scenario in the UK, among other health threats.’