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Jeremy Hunt faces fresh claims he is a 'lockdown fanatic'

Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt faced fresh claims last night that he was a

A newly emerged video is leading Tory leader hopeful Jeremy Hunt to face new claims that he is a “lockdown fanatic” who has shut down the UK economy to emulate China’s zero-Covid policy

  • Former Health Secretary urged ‘zero infection and disease elimination’
  • He spoke positively about China’s brutal zero-tolerance approach to Covid
  • But qualified his statements by saying: “We shouldn’t go that far in this country.”

Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt faced fresh claims last night that he was a “lockdown fanatic” who had shut down the UK economy to mimic China’s draconian Zero Covid policies – and was trying to stem the spread of the virus Stop virus by taking extreme measures.

Mr Hunt – who became a botched bid to become prime minister before last week’s failed no-confidence vote on Boris Johnson – angrily denied backing the Chinese approach when asked about it last month, with a source close to the former health secretary describing it as “completely wrong, disproportionate and inhuman”.

However, The Mail on Sunday has obtained video footage of Mr Hunt arguing in July 2020 – six months after the pandemic hit the UK – in which he says he “strongly agrees” that “we should have zero infection and the elimination.” of the disease” because the countries that have taken this approach “have overwhelmingly been the most successful in fighting the coronavirus”.

Mr Hunt cites the example of his sister, who lives in Beijing and flew back to the Chinese capital in the middle of the lockdown: “To give you an idea of ​​the contrast, she was escorted from the airport to her home by Health Ministry officials and then for a brought to her home for two-week quarantine. The door was sealed and a police car regularly stopped in front of her house.

“Now I’m not saying you should go that far in this country, but I think it’s just an indication of how serious they are about stopping every possible source of infection at the root.”

Mr Hunt adds: “I think the key issue we have is that we have adopted the world’s best practices for testing and tracing, but at a time when we’ve had around three and a half thousand to 5,000 infections a day while Korea , Taiwan, Singapore got between 10 and 100 infections daily.’

Critics say the former health minister’s comments are short-sighted given the growing human and economic costs of China’s zero-Covid policy.

On Friday, half of Shanghai went into lockdown – again – after just 11 new infections were detected. The megacity of 28 million people recently emerged from an arduous 60-day lockdown that saw many residents forcibly confined to their communities.

Ten days ago, the People’s Daily, a government mouthpiece, hailed “the great achievements … in the defense of Shanghai” as cases fell to almost zero from 30,000 a day in April.

The celebrations were premature, however: Last Thursday, the two million residents of the Minhang suburb were told lockdowns and mass testing would continue for at least two days – only for measures to be extended to half of the city’s 16 districts the following day.

Experts say if Britain had taken the same draconian approach it would have turned us into a ‘hermit kingdom’.

A cabinet critic of Mr Hunt said: “He’s a lockdown fanatic who would have ruined the economy had he been in charge.”

China is now doubling to zero Covid, building large numbers of permanent testing stations in cities across the country and expanding quarantine facilities.

Jeremy Hunt leaves his home in London on a bicycle the morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote of confidence

Jeremy Hunt leaves his home in London on a bicycle the morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote of confidence

According to Nomura, a Japanese investment bank, it would lose 1.7 percent of the world’s second-largest economy’s gross domestic product if all Chinese cities introduced mandatory testing every three days — as is currently mandated in Beijing. Most epidemiologists believe China is cornering itself by refusing to open up.

To prevent a horrendous number of Covid deaths, the country urgently needs to increase the number of elderly people who have been triple-stabbed.

But the number of nationwide booster shots for over-60s has fallen from nearly 800,000 a day when the lockdown began in Shanghai to about 100,000 a day now.

As concerns about the nationwide spread of the Omicron variant have eased, so has urgency about the need for vaccination. A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt said: “Jeremy felt we should have been more robust in containing the virus in the early stages before vaccination.

“But it is a mischaracterization to say that he supported a zero-Covid approach – which was rejected by the selection committee report he co-authored, and he believes it to be a fatally flawed approach, as demonstrated by what is happening in China today.

“Once vaccines became widely available, he advocated learning to live with the virus.”

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