Tory health minister Gillian Keegan has apologized for an ‘error of judgement’ after continuing a meeting despite testing positive for Covid-19.
The MP for Chichester took a ‘precautionary’ lateral flow test ahead of a planned visit at Westminster yesterday with Mike Palmer, Andy Airey and Tim Owen, who lost their daughters to suicide.
She received a positive result during the meeting but, instead of leaving to self-isolate, briefly continued with the bereaved fathers’ consent.
The minister for care and mental health has now recognized she should have immediately ended the visit, saying: ‘This was an error of judgment on my part.’
Her comments sparked a huge backlash online, as one resident of her constituency branded her actions ‘appalling’ while others questioned why she attended the meeting without knowing the result.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has accepted Ms Keegan’s apology and ‘continues to support her in her role’.
In the event of a positive test result, the NHS website says you must self-isolate ‘straight away’.
Gillian Keegan (above) took a lateral flow test ahead of a planned visit at Westminster yesterday with Mike Palmer, Andy Airey and Tim Owen, who lost their daughters to suicide
The MP for Chichester received a positive result during the meeting but, instead of leaving to self-isolate, briefly continued with the bereaved fathers’ (pictured) consent
When should you self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19?
Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in England must self-isolate ‘straight away’ and get a PCR test as soon as possible.
It is a legal requirement to self-isolate, and those who do not could be fined.
You should also self-isolate immediately if someone you live with has symptoms or tests positive – unless you are fully vaccinated, exempt from vaccination, under 18 or part of an approved Covid vaccine trial.
If you test positive, your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if symptomless) and the next 10 full days.
Self-isolation can end after five full days, as long as you test negative on day five and day six.
The NHS says self-isolating ‘stops the virus spreading to other people’.
Source: NHS England
In a thread on Twitter published last night, Ms Keegan wrote: ‘Earlier today, ahead of a planned visit I took a precautionary LFD test which gave a positive result. I am now isolating at home and fortunately feel fine.
‘When I was told my test was positive I was listening to three fathers who had tragically lost their daughters to suicide.
‘I told them the result and took further precautions but with their consent, I stayed for a short period to hear their stories.
‘I should have immediately ended the meeting and on reflection this was an error of judgment on my part.
‘I fully recognize the importance of following the letter and spirit of the policies, so want to be upfront about what happened and to apologize for the mistake I made.’
A spokesman for Mr Javid said: ‘The Secretary of State has spoken with the minister who has taken responsibility for her actions and made a full apology.
‘He accepts her apology and continues to support her in her role.’
And asked what he would say to Ms Keegan, health minister Ed Argar told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘I saw that Twitter thread, I think, late last night, I think it was.
‘She’s clearly issued a fulsome apology there, that she did make an error of judgment, she was open about that and she accepted she made an error of judgment.’
He added: ‘I understand – I haven’t spoken to or seen Gillian yesterday or today, so I don’t know first hand – but I understand from her Twitter thread that she set out the circumstances and apologised, and I understand that she has also spoken to and apologized to the Secretary of State, who has accepted that apology.’
But social media users criticized the health minister’s ‘reckless’ decision, with one person writing: ‘I am a member of your constituency, and I find this behavior appalling.
The minister for care and mental health has now recognized she should have immediately ended the visit, saying: ‘This was an error of judgment on my part’
Ms Keegan was meeting the fathers, who had raised nearly £1million in memory of their daughters, to discuss putting suicide on the national curriculum
‘As a school teacher I, like many, LFD at least twice per week. I do it in plenty of time, so I know I’ve tested negative before I go near any students or other staff. Wait for your result.’
Another posted: ‘Why did you do an LFT and go into a meeting without knowing the result?’
A third added: ‘How is it that you guys get to say a meaningless sorry on Twitter and we get fined if we break the rules!’
And a fourth commented: ‘This was very reckless, you should have taken the test before you decided to travel’, adding: ‘How many others did you put at risk beforehand?’
Her comments sparked a huge backlash online, as one resident of her constituency branded her actions ‘appalling’ while others questioned why she attended the meeting without knowing the result
In the past, Ms Keegan has talked about British people doing the ‘right thing’ when it comes to coronavirus.
Asked in November about how new rules around wearing face coverings on public transport would be enforced, Ms Keegan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Well, largely due to the good sense of British people who will hopefully listen to the rules, try to protect each other, and do what the right thing is.
‘That’s largely what… how it’s always been. That’s pretty much what it’s always been, but the police do have powers to enforce.’
Ms Keegan was meeting the three fathers, who had raised nearly £1million in memory of their daughters, to discuss putting suicide on the national curriculum.
Following the visit, Mr Airey said: ‘It was fantastic to sit down with the minister responsible for mental health and suicide prevention.
‘The fact that she listened to our story, was interested in what we had to say, and was keen to go forward and engage in the conversation is really positive.’