Government ‘considered killing all UK cats’ at start of Covid says ex-minister

The UK Government considered killing all cats at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an ex-minister.

Lord Bethall, who headed the NHS Test and Trace, explained so little was known about the virus in the early days that there were concerns about whether it could be transmitted by pets.

This led to ministers having to ponder some horrifying ideas when the virus first broke out in 2020.

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The hereditary peer 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?

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

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

The comments came as his former boss furiously disputed allegations that he failed to follow expert advice to test all people entering into care homes during the pandemic.

WhatsApp messages leaked to the Daily Telegraph suggested Mr Hancock did not believe committing to testing those from the community – including care home staff – was needed and only “muddies the waters”.

This was despite guidance from Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty telling him there should be testing for “all going into care homes” in April 2020.

Testing was implemented for all people entering care homes in August 2020.

But Mr Hancock's spokesman said the messages offered a "distorted account" and were being "spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda".

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