Britain’s new health secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday (Jun 27) his priority was to oversee a return to normal from the Covid-19 pandemic, and praised his predecessor Matt Hancock who was forced to resign after breaking social-distancing rules.
Javid, a former finance minister, starts his new role with a pressing to-do list – coronavirus cases are rising, hospitals are warning of a growing backlog of people needing care and staff are battling burn-out in their fight against the disease.
“We are still in a pandemic, and I want to see that come to an end as soon as possible, and that will be my most immediate priority to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible,” he told BBC News.
Javid said later: “Thanks to the fantastic efforts of our NHS and social care staff who work tirelessly every day, and our phenomenal vaccination programme, we have made enormous progress in the battle against this dreadful disease.”
Hancock resigned after he admitted breaking Covid-19 guidance by kissing and embracing an aide in his office, angering colleagues and the public during lockdown.
Downing Street on Saturday (June 26) published Hancock’s resignation letter to Boris Johnson and the prime minister‘s response, in which he said he was sorry to receive it.
Around the same time of Saturday evening, Hancock tweeted:
I have resigned as Health Secretary pic.twitter.com/eyWi1AA19i
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) June 26, 2021
“We have worked so hard as a country to fight the pandemic,” Hancock said in the letter. “The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis.”