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UK health minister sparks fury by urging people not to ‘cower from’ COVID

britain's secretary of state for health and social care javid statement
Britain's Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid gives a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) update during a session in Parliament, in London, Britain July 12, 2021. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

British health minister Sajid Javid was accused of insulting coronavirus victims on Sunday after urging people to take a COVID-19 vaccine and “learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus”.

Javid, who replaced Matt Hancock as health minister last month after his predecessor stepped down for breaking COVID rules by kissing an aide in his office, began his job by urging people to learn to live with the virus.

Britain, which has one of the highest official COVID death tolls, has shifted its strategy to fight coronavirus from using restrictions to limit its spread to opening up society in the hope vaccines will protect most people from serious illness.

Cases are high, but so is uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, and officials argue the shift is needed to help businesses in sectors such as hospitality and the night-time economy.

Writing on Twitter, Javid said on Saturday he had recovered after testing positive for COVID. “Symptoms were very mild, thanks to amazing vaccines,” he said.

“Please – if you haven’t yet – get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.”

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, was one of several lawmakers from opposition parties and people who have lost family members to the pandemic to criticise his use of the phrase “cower from”.

“127,000 people have died from this virus, tens of thousands of whom would still be here if it wasn’t for the catastrophic failures of your government,” she said on Twitter.

“So how dare you denigrate people for trying to keep themselves and their families safe.”

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