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Judges ruled the discharge policies from March and April 2020 failed by not considering the danger to the elderly and vulnerable posed by non-symptomatic transmission of Covid.
More than 20,000 older or disabled residents died from Covid in England and Wales from the start of the pandemic to August 2020.
Mr Hancock told the BBC the pandemic was “incredibly difficult”, adding: “I’m happy to reiterate my apology… for all the pain and anguish it caused.”
But he insisted it was not at fault, adding “We ministers were not told about asymptomatic [Covid] transmission.”
The claim against the Government had been brought by Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers died from the virus.
When the pandemic first hit, hospital patients were rapidly discharged into care homes without testing, but offical documents showed there was no need for this until mid-April.
The Government was “irrational” to allow this to happen without advising that asymptomatic patients in care homes isolate for 14 days, judges ruled.
There was no evidence Mr Hancock addressed the risk of this sort of transmission to residents, even though the issue was mentioned as early as March 13 by adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Care groups welcomed the ruling – and called Mr Hancock’s claims that the Government tried to put a “protective” ring around homes a “sickening lie”.
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