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  • now, senior government ministers and officials have told the BBC there should have been a lockdown in England at an earlier date last autumn to contain the second wave of the pandemic that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

  • On the eve of the first anniversary of the initial restrictions, We start a week of special knightly reports.

  • Looking back.

  • Over the past year, our political editor, Laura Coons Berg, has spoken to 20 ministers and senior officials off the record, the men and women whose decisions have had such a far reaching effect on people's lives.

  • At the start of March last year, I asked a senior member of the government if they were worried about coronavirus.

  • Their answer was personally no.

  • Now we've lost more than the population of a small city.

  • I've talked to more than 20 senior politicians, officials and former officials, those who were in the room making the decisions.

  • They agreed to talk on the basis of anonymity.

  • This is what they were thinking as we all watched on mhm, mhm, mhm.

  • The virus arriving in Italy was when it sank in for most like a scene from a nightmare that Italy is now living.

  • The government had been talking about the virus for weeks, but some on the inside say it was seen as hysteria.

  • Is just like flew.

  • It went from not on the radar to people on the floor of hospitals in Lombardy.

  • That was the moment we knew it was inevitable, said one senior minister after several weeks of Cobra meetings, described by one attendee as a disaster, are we prepared enough?

  • Miss Hancock, the government machine was breaking in our hands, and insider told me Number 10 had started to prepare the public.

  • But although it was never a firm proposal, officials had even talked about chicken pox parties to help the virus spread among the healthy population.

  • The conversations were totally in the wrong universe, one source said.

  • But a tiny group of advisors confronted the prime minister with evidence on Saturday, the 14th of March, showing graphs to him that suggested without tougher, faster action, the NHS would collapse.

  • We had those reasonable worst case scenarios of hundreds of thousands of deaths, and the problem with them was that they were coming true, so we knew we had to act, and that Monday I went to parliament and said that all unnecessary social contacts should be stopped.

  • I couldn't believe that I was having to say these words.

  • Lockdown was coming.

  • It was all so new.

  • We were more blind than we told the public, one official admits.

  • But something more personal soon struck.

  • Tonight at 10, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, has been taken to intensive care.

  • Cabinet ministers were summoned urgently on the phone.

  • All of a sudden we were asked to join a call, not knowing if he was alive, one of them said.

  • Who's in charge of the government?

  • Well, the government's business will continue.

  • But the country's spiraling into crisis could, for a moment have lost its prime minister.

  • But after two months of strict rules, news broke about the prime minister's chief advisor, Dominic Cummings.

  • He, in fact, traveled to his parents' home in Durham.

  • He refused to quit, instead defending himself in the Downing Street Garden.

  • I thought the best thing to do in all the circumstances was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father's farm.

  • The political atmosphere turned sour, the cabinet minister said.

  • There's been tremendous goodwill.

  • The early pandemic washed away the bitterness of Brexit But that came flooding back all that bile, all that frustration by the summer, with cases fallen and many rules relax, we didn't feel like a country in the grip of a pandemic, even encouraged to eat out.

  • Hello.

  • But when schools and universities returned, the testing system couldn't cope and the rise began.

  • A senior figure told me, If you do nothing now, by the end of October, you'll get something worse than the first wave.

  • There was frustration among some in Downing Street about the prime minister's attitude, sometimes appearing to be in Let it rip mode.

  • What I said to the prime minister over the summer is review.

  • What's gone on.

  • There is likely to be a second way and don't make the same mistakes again because I think that's unforgivable.

  • I might have given you the benefit of the doubt in the first way, but you didn't learn the lessons and you went and repeated the very same mistakes.

  • The prime minister resisted calls for a short lockdown.

  • A senior figure told me the biggest mistake was the rush of blood to the head in the summer, and the prime minister has to carry the can from the middle of September, there were people in government saying, You're going to have to toughen things up.

  • You're going to have to go faster.

  • We listen to all of the evidence all the way through, but you've got to balance all of the different considerations.

  • It's only at the prime minister's desk that all these different considerations come together.

  • Yet some believe Boris Johnson can't be blamed.

  • It was a reasonable set of judgments to make.

  • No one knew then, either about the new variant, the oxygen levels plummet of a covid patient.

  • But for some of the decision makers still in government, the missed moments of September had a profound effect.

  • Setting a course for a terrible second wave.

  • Time and again, those who made the choices site one big success, throwing everything at finding a vaccine they had resolved to pay high a pay early and ensure it works at home.

  • Minister is resolved to set aside the normal rules.

  • The project was vital but uncertain.

  • Much of it was secret to the vaccines even had code names named after submarines to protect commercial confidentiality.

  • Now that early choice to push alone for a vaccine seemed a stroke of genius, but back then it was a real gamble.

  • This generation of decision makers and the fabric of the state have been stretched in a way they just hadn't been for decades.

  • But so ever we.

  • But those who made the decisions are all too aware that mistakes in these last 12 months may have had such a terrible cost.

  • That was Laura there with the first of this week's special reports on the past year.

now, senior government ministers and officials have told the BBC there should have been a lockdown in England at an earlier date last autumn to contain the second wave of the pandemic that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

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UK ministers admit second lockdown came too late to contain second Covid wave - BBC News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/16
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