Boris Johnson in bid to calm public fear with daily coronavirus updates

Boris Johnson will hold daily coronavirus press conferences from today after he was urged to “speak directly to the public”.

The Prime Minister will address the media over the pandemic alongside chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance on Monday.

The first of the daily briefings will come after the PM chairs a Cobra committee meeting expected to focus on plans to shield elderly and vulnerable citizens, household isolation and mass gatherings.

No 10 announced the plans to hold televised daily briefings after Mr Johnson received criticism over an apparent lack of transparency in the fight against Covid-19.

The cross-party unity in the fight against the outbreak had begun to fray with both Labour and Lib Dem figures calling for daily updates.

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A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister and this Government are committed to keeping the public informed every step of the way about what we’re doing to fight the spread of coronavirus, when we’re doing it and why we’re doing it.

“At all times we will be led by the science to bring forward the right responses at the right time to this global pandemic.”

There have been questions about the UK's approach compared with other countries.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government's modelling, which has shaped its response, would be published “in the next couple of days” so people can scrutinise Whitehall's response.

The PM has held three press conferences in recent days, flanked by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

But there was anger today that major plans to tackle Covid-19 emerged from an anonymous briefing to a journalist.

Theresa May's former chief of staff Lord Barwell said: "I cannot say this strongly enough: Ministers need to stop anonymously briefing journalists and start speaking directly to the public.

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"Trust in government is going to be vital during the difficult months ahead and it is best fostered by transparency, not off-the-record briefing."

Lib Dem acting leader Sir Ed Davey said: “Whilst we have full confidence in the CMO and his team, Boris Johnson is failing to explain convincingly his strategic approach to dealing with Coronavirus.

“The Government’s position still looks at odds with the actions taken by other countries and the advice of the World Health Organisation, and people deserve to know why.

“With the UK’s social care sector on its knees, many shops running low on key items and some businesses running out of cash, the Government has failed to prepare the country properly or communicate its strategy adequately.

“Conservative Ministers must improve their performance significantly in the coming weeks.”

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth earlier called for daily ministerial press conferences.

He told Sky News: "The Prime Minister should be out there daily speaking to the nation and explaining why things are changing.

“I appreciate this is fast-moving but what we've seen with the panic-buying is a reflection of the uncertainty that is out there, which is why I would really urge the Prime Minister to be more on the front foot.

“I'm not trying to be scoring points for the sake of it but people want that certainty and they want to be reassured that the Government has a grip."

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