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Global criticism of Britain over 'shambles' of nearly 30,000 deaths

  

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A man wearing a protective face mask walks by a deserted Mansion House in London, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

A man wearing a protective face mask walks by a deserted Mansion House in London, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

REUTERS

A man wearing a protective face mask walks by a deserted Mansion House in London, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

With the UK death toll reaching almost 30,000 - the highest in Europe - other countries have looked on in disbelief at what they judge to be the UK's delays, missteps and complacency.

One of the most damning assessments was in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' under the headline 'Biggest failure in a generation: Where did Britain go wrong?'

The paper focused on four main failings: the lack of PPE for healthcare workers, repeated delays in implementing a lockdown, a bungled test and tracing regime, and the failure to protect care home residents.

Mike Rann, a former Australian high commissioner to Britain, said the UK made key mistakes when they had the most damaging impact.

"The earliest stages were handled negligently. A shambles of mixed messaging, poor organisation and a complacent attitude that what was happening in Italy wouldn't happen here," he said.

The decision, on March 12, to abandon mass testing has also been questioned.

Across the Atlantic similar questions are being asked. CNN asked what went wrong with the UK's initial handling, showing footage of packed Tube trains before lockdown, and flashbacks to early government briefings when the concept of 'herd immunity' guided thinking.

The 'New Yorker' was even more forthright, characterising the UK's handling as "a curious mixture of superiority and fatalism... which has been slow and calamitous". It said officials "dithered" in the face of reports of a new virus in China and hesitated as it tore through Italy. It also described "a directionless 10-day period in which the virus was able to circulate more or less freely".

But perhaps the most damning criticism comes from Italy, where in a piece titled 'All the Johnson government's mistakes', 'La Repubblica' said: "Certainly many countries, including Italy, committed grave errors. But the confusion and contradictions displayed by the British government in the past few months have few equals, with consequences that have yet to be fully understood." (© Daily Telegraph)

Irish Independent