Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been criticised for saying people must no longer “cower” from coronavirus as he announced he had made a “full recovery” from Covid-19.
Labour accused him of having managed to “denigrate” people who followed the rules to protect others, while the Lib Dems told him to apologise to those who have shielded because they are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
Mr Javid received a positive test result on July 17 for a coronavirus infection that ultimately sent Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak into isolation as contacts.
The Health Secretary, who had received both jabs before testing positive, said on Saturday he had made a “full recovery” and that his “symptoms were very mild, thanks to amazing vaccines”.
“Please, if you haven’t yet, get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus,” he wrote on Twitter.
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy questioned his use of the word cower, in words echoed by Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner.
“129,000 Brits have died from Covid under your Government’s watch,” Mr Lammy wrote.
“Don’t denigrate people for trying to keep themselves and their families safe.”
Lib Dem health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said Mr Javid’s tweet was “outrageous” while thousands remain in hospital with Covid-19.
“His careless words have insulted every man, woman and child who has followed the rules and stayed at home to protect others,” she said in a statement.
“He owes them all, especially the millions who are shielding, an apology.”
Co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Jo Goodman said Mr Javid’s “comments are deeply insensitive on a number of levels”.
“Not only are they hurtful to bereaved families, implying our loved ones were too cowardly to fight the virus, but they insult all those still doing their best to protect others from the devastation this horrific virus can bring,” she added.
“Words matter and the flippancy and carelessness of this comment has caused deep hurt and further muddied the waters of the Government’s dangerously mixed messaging.”
Mr Johnson’s quarantine in his Chequers country residence is expected to finish at the end of the day on Monday, as is Mr Sunak’s.
The pair initially tried to avoid isolation by saying they were taking part in a testing pilot, but backed down in the face of widespread public criticism.
Mr Javid replaced Matt Hancock as Health Secretary last month when the scandal-hit predecessor stood down amid public outrage after leaked CCTV footage showed him kissing an aide in breach of coronavirus rules.
The successor has been seen as more strongly in favour of lifting coronavirus restrictions and most remaining legal rules in England were ended on Monday.