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Care homes pour cold water on Hancock's visitor-testing promise

No 10 insists rules were followed at meeting as PM and MPs self-isolate

Asked about a photograph showing Mr Johnson and Mr Anderson standing less than two metres apart at the meeting, the spokesman said: "They are stood side by side, rather than face to face".

In selected care homes, which are situated in low-infection areas, visitors are allowed to see relatives without screen partitions between them if they test negative for covid-19.

Johnson, who contracted the virus in April and spent three days in intensive care as his symptoms worsened, met with a small group of lawmakers for about a half-hour on Thursday, including one, Lee Anderson, who subsequently developed symptoms and tested positive.

"We've got to interrupt the spread of the disease and one of the ways we can do that now is by self-isolating for 14 days", he added, saying he would lead the virus response from his Downing Street home.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was right that the prime minister goes into self-isolation even though he's already had coronavirus as people "can catch it twice".

"It doesn't matter that we were all doing social distancing, it doesn't matter that I'm fit as a butcher's dog, feel great - so many people do in my circumstances".

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren't able to simply hug each other to support them in this hard time".

The United Kingdom has experienced the seventh highest number of cases in the world with more 1.3 million.

© Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images A drive-through visit to a residential care home in Oxfordshire earlier this year.

"We discovered too many care homes didn't really follow the procedures in the way that they could have", the prime minister claimed, after Matt Hancock discharged 25,000 hospital patients into care settings without bothering to test them first.

Asked how many vaccines Britain would need, he said it depended on how effective they were at preventing transmission.

"The critical thing is that when somebody gets coronavirus, the turnaround of the system is rapid", Hancock said.

A former Conservative Party director of communications, Symonds is reportedly playing an increasingly significant role in Downing Street decision-making, and the Mail on Sunday newspaper has published a detailed account of recent events and the alleged personal disagreements.

Dominic Cummings, who worked as a senior special advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves 10 Downing Street on Friday.