'Complacent' UK draws global criticism for Covid-19 response

From Italy to Australia, critics have accused a “complacent” British government of “massively underestimating” the gravity of the coronavirus crisis after the UK reported the highest death toll in Europe. While Rai Uno, the Italian state broadcaster’s flagship channel, gave prominent play to the news that Britain had recorded “more than 32,000 deaths, the highest total in Europe exceeding even Italy”, the Corriere della Serra daily went a good way further. Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement, while flanked by windows showing children's drawings of rainbows supporting the NHS, on his first day back at work in Downing Street after recovering from a bout of coronavirus (COVID-19) that put him in intensive care, in London, England on April 27. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) warned the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could see the U.K. economy shrink by a record 35 percent by June.  A man wears a religious placard on Market Street in Manchester, England on March 25.  Workers sell food and household items to local residents from their ice cream van at a supported housing estate in west Belfast, Northern Ireland on April 1. Soldiers and private contractors help to prepare the ExCel centre in London, which is being made into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital comprising two wards, each of 2,000 people, to help tackle coronavirus, on March 30.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a press conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with chief medical officer Chris Whitty (L) and Chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance (R) in Downing Street after he had taken part in the government's emergency Cobra meeting in London, England on March 16. The country that was “the most reluctant in Europe to impose a lockdown has become the most cautious to start reopening”, with public opinion frightened of the consequences and Boris Johnson eager to avoid breaking Italy’s “sad record”. Experts have warned against direct international comparisons of Covid-19 death tolls, saying different counting methods and many other factors make such exercises unreliable and it may take months if not years to draw firm conclusions. “The two great British virtues – understatement and grace under fire – have turned out to not be a blessing.” He said the UK was served neither by “a very weak cabinet” nor Johnson’s character: “He’s not Trump, though there is something similar in their approaches, but in this kind of challenge you need to really work hard on details. “Only a few weeks ago, Britain had the reputation of a country in which the coronavirus was only spreading cautiously,” Meyer wrote in an opinion piece published in several newspapers in Germany and Austria. “The conservative press tries to present Johnson as a man of reborn wisdom”, whose experience of Covid-19 had led him to “lash himself to the mast to resist the siren calls” of those demanding the lockdown be lifted soon, wrote Rafa de Miguel. “Ministers of slim talent have bumbled through daily briefings and now big business-Conservative donors are impatient to reverse a shutdown so contrary to Brexiteer dreams,” Fionnuala O’Connor wrote in the broadly nationalist Irish News. David Hunter, an Australian-educated professor of epidemiology and medicine at Oxford University, told the conservative Sydney Morning Herald the British response was “not a model to follow.