The prime minister's former top adviser, Dominic Cummings, turned his fire on ministers in an explosive seven-hour evidence session before United Kingdom lawmakers on Wednesday during which he described Boris Johnson as "unfit for the job".
In the Commons, Mr Hancock said the allegations levelled against him by Mr Cummings were "not true" and he later told a Downing Street press conference that the commitment he had given was to build the capacity to be able to test patients before discharge. Opposition Labour Party health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said that, whether or not Cummings' allegations were true, the government had questions to answer.
He insisted that "at every stage we have been governed by a determination to protect life" but acknowledged the situation in care homes had been "tragic".
"I've been straight with people in public and in private throughout".
But the prime minister did not answer when he was asked whether he has confidence in health secretary Matt Hancock who was subject to the worst of Mr Cummings' criticisms.More news: Facebook Reverses Course, Won't Ban Lab Virus Theory
British health minister Matt Hancock will face a grilling from lawmakers on Thursday after the prime minister's former chief aide accused him of lying and said he should have been sacked for repeated failings over the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cummings, who masterminded the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum before joining Johnson when he became prime minister three years later, claimed that Johnson had repeatedly ignored scientific advice and wrongly delayed lockdowns.
"If the Government has time to play a leading role in this sideshow they have the time to get on with an inquiry".
A statement from the Prime Minister is expected with the initial comments made in an interview during a visit to Colchester Hospital.
"What people want us to get on with is delivering the (reopening) road map and trying, cautiously, to take our country forward through what has been one of the most hard periods that I think anybody can remember".More news: Defiant Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko accuses West of waging 'hybrid war'
With nearly 128,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has the world's fifth highest official Covid-19 toll, far higher than the government's initial worst-case estimates of 20,000. Opposition politicians and families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, want it to start sooner.
The government has been lifting restrictions in stages, with indoor eating, drinking and entertainment venues reopening last week, but social distancing and mask-wearing rules still in place.
Speaking about current plans to remove lockdown restrictions on June 21 - a fourth and final step on the government's roadmap out of lockdown - Johnson said that cases of the virus were increasing, including those of a variant first identified in India.
The prime minister told reporters: "As I have said many times I don't see anything now in the data to suggest that we have to deviate from the road map".
Asked whether the rise in the Indian variant Johnson said he did not "see anything now in the data" to divert from the June 21 target for the next stage of exiting lockdown but "we may need to wait" for more data.More news: Belarus isolation grows as Europe cuts air links over diverted plane