Live Coronavirus News Updates and Analysis

Live Coronavirus News Updates and Analysis


A top adviser to Boris Johnson fends off calls to resign amid furor over his travel.

Facing a political firestorm over his breach of lockdown rules, a key adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain asked for public sympathy — but made no direct apology — at a highly unusual news conference in Downing Street on Monday.

Dominic Cummings, Mr. Johnson’s closest aide, admitted driving more than 250 miles from London to Durham, in northeast England, while the country was on lockdown. He made the journey with his wife, who was ill, and his 4-year-old son.

At the time, Britons were being told to self-isolate and not to leave their home if they believed they had the virus.

Mr. Cummings said that he had done so to ensure care for his young son with relatives in Durham should both he and his wife fall ill with Covid-19. Mr. Cummings added that because of his high profile, he had been “subject to threats and violence” at his home in London.

“I’m not surprised many people are very angry,” Mr. Cummings said, adding that he had not consulted Mr. Johnson, who has defended him, before leaving London. “I don’t regret what I did; I think what I did was reasonable in these circumstances.”

About an hour after Mr. Cummings spoke, Mr. Johnson tried to put the furor behind him by announcing new measures to ease the lockdown. Among other steps, outdoor markets and car dealerships will be allowed to open June 1; department stores and small shops will follow on June 15. Still, the prime minister said he regretted the anger that the Cummings episode had stirred up and noted that he had not known in advance about his plans.

“My conclusion is that he acted reasonably,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that “people will have to make their minds up.”

At least 18 lawmakers from Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party have now criticized Mr. Cummings, as have a number of Church of England bishops, opposition lawmakers and members of the public. Some scientists and opposition politicians have warned that the episode risks undermining the credibility of government public health messages on the pandemic.

The World Health Organization said on Monday that safety concerns had prompted it to temporarily remove the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine — which Mr. Trump said he had taken in hopes of warding off the coronavirus, despite the lack of evidence that it works — from a global drug trial aimed at finding treatments for Covid-19.

Hydroxychloroquine had been one of several drugs and drug combinations that the W.H.O. was testing to evaluate whether it was effective against Covid-19. The test, called the Solidarity Trial, has enrolled nearly 3,500 patients so far from 17 countries, officials said.

Dr. Tedros noted that the concerns related to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, another malaria drug, stemmed from when they were used on Covid-19 patients. “I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria,” he said.



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