By Amber Milne
LONDON, April 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation). The British government was under fire on social media on Thursday. She has been accused of promoting the idea that the corona virus is a “great leveler” that affects both the rich and the poor.
The debate over the idea – rejected by most health professionals – that the virus affects all people equally came after a BBC television news broadcaster said it was a myth spread by government officials.
“The disease is not a great leveler, the consequences of which all rich and poor suffer equally,” said Emily Maitlis on Wednesday night’s prestigious Newsnight show.
“They don’t survive the disease through strength and character, whatever the Prime Minister’s colleagues will tell us,” Maitlis said on BBC television.
“This is a myth that needs to be exposed.”
The government said it had no comment on the controversy.
Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in hospital with COVID-19 and is taking part in an appeal by ministers, kings and celebrities who have contracted the virus.
“The fact that both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health are infected with the virus is a reminder that the virus is not discrimination,” Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said at a press conference last month.
But health experts say it is poor people and key frontline workers who bear the brunt because they are more likely to come into contact with the disease and less likely to get help.
Key members of Johnson’s team, such as Dominic Raab, who stands up for Johnson while he is recovering, have expressed confidence in his recovery as the Prime Minister is a “fighter”.
But many on Twitter said Raab’s language implied that those who died from the virus – over 7,000 in the UK as of the last count – had not fought hard enough.
“Saying that you survive this terrible virus because you are a fighter is an insult to every single person who has died,” said Twitter user Neville Robert Gregory.
“Being a” fighter “doesn’t matter whether you survive or not,” said university researcher Martin Heneghan.
Maitlis said it was poorly paid workers, from nurses to workers, and people who lived in skyscrapers and cramped conditions and were more likely to get the disease.
Millions of people in the UK have lost jobs and income as a result of a nationwide ban forcing many non-essential companies to close their doors, with the worst hit the least paid.
Maps show that poor neighborhoods – from Chicago to Barcelona – are far more affected by the virus than nearby areas where wealthier residents live.
“COVID19 is not the great leveler, people with lower incomes are disproportionately affected,” said Rebecca Moynihan, opposition labor party politician.
“Lockdown is a matter of housing, income, work and health privileges.” (Reporting by Amber Milne; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please thank the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the non-profit branch of Thomson Reuters that covers the lives of people around the world who have difficulty living freely or fairly. Visit http : //news.trust .org)