Government considered 'exterminating' pet cats at start of Covid pandemic, says former minister | The Sun

THE Government considered "exterminating" all pet cats amid fears they could be spreading Covid, a former health minister has said.

Lord Bethell said the concern about pets underlined how little was known about the disease at the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.

He told Channel 4 News: "What we shouldn't forget is how little we understood about this disease.

"There was a moment we were very unclear about whether domestic pets could transmit the disease.

"In fact, there was an idea at one moment that we might have to ask the public to exterminate all the cats in Britain.

"Can you imagine what would have happened if we had wanted to do that?

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"And yet, for a moment there was a bit of evidence around that so that had to be investigated and closed down."

Lord Bethell was Matt Hancock's deputy in the Department of Health and Social Care from 2020 to 2021.

It comes after a Covid row erupted after 100,000 pandemic WhatsApp messages to and from Mr Hancock were leaked.

In one of the biggest unofficial disclosures of government data, it was revealed children in England were forced to wear face masks to appease Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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And Mr Hancock stands accused of ignoring scientific advice on testing the elderly and frail moving into care homes.

Last night, Downing Street was at panic stations amid fears Prime Minister Rishi Sunak might be dragged into the row over the messages, leaked to the Daily Telegraph.

And Mr Hanock’s allies said he was considering legal action over claims he ignored pleas from the country’s top doctor, Prof Sir Chris Whitty, to test those entering care homes from the community.

His spokesman said it was “flat wrong” he had rejected the idea of giving Covid tests to everyone.

According to the messages, at the time in 2020 Mr Hancock insisted it was “not currently possible” to test all arrivals in care homes.

Despite saying testing for all was “obviously a good, positive step” he then told an aide it “muddies the water”, with tests necessary only for those coming from hospital.

Figures show more than 43,000 care home residents died of Covid between 2020 and 2022.

Ex-Sunday Times journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who previously described lockdowns as an “unmitigated disaster," said she leaked the messages as she feared the official Covid inquiry would be a “colossal whitewash”.

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Lord Bethell dismissed claims Covid decisions were made via messaging.

He said: “This partial glimpse gives a misleading impression.”

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