Chinese official ‘accepts criticism’ over virus response

The British government has rejected calls to sack top adviser Dominic Cummings over allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country while displaying symptoms of the disease.

Mr Cummings left his London home shortly after he was diagnosed with the virus on March 30, and was later seen with his young son close to his parents’ home in Durham, more than 400 kilometres away.

Under lockdown rules brought in on March 23, anyone with symptoms must self-isolate in their own homes. And people aged over 70 – as Cummings’ parents are – are not allowed to receive visitors.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and his special advisor Dominic Cummings. Picture: AFP

Britain’s opposition Labour party said his actions suggested Mr Cummings viewed himself as above the law and the smaller Liberal Democrats said it could be a resigning issue.

“The public have made extraordinary sacrifices during this pandemic and the lockdown. It cannot be one rule for those who set them and another for the British people,” said Labour leader Keir Starmer.

An unnamed minister told the Daily Telegraph: “He’s going to have to go. It’s just arrogance.”

But a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Mr Cummings had acted “in line with coronavirus guidelines”.

“Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for,” the spokesman said on Saturday.

“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed,” he added.

On March 24, deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries had said that “although we are encouraging everybody to stay in their own households… clearly if you have adults who are unable to look after a small child, that is an exceptional circumstance”.

Mr Cummings also denied reports in the Guardian newspaper that police had spoken directly to him or his family over the issue.

He has been a highly divisive figure in British politics ever since masterminding the 2016 Brexit campaign alongside Johnson.


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