Published: 11:04, 15 April 2020
| Updated: 11:21, 15 April 2020
Care minister Helen Whately has been taken to task by Piers Morgan in a car-crash interview on Good Morning Britain.
The Kent MP stumbled her way through a 20-minute appearance on the ITV show and at points was accused - perhaps unfairly - of laughing by the outspoken co-host.
She was questioned heavily on claims as many as 4,000 people have died of coronavirus in care homes, and riled Morgan by failing to give straight answers.
The Conservative - who represents Faversham and Mid-Kent - also attempted to bypass questions on whether government ministers are being given priority over care workers for Covid-19 testing.
When Morgan held up the front page of the Daily Mail, headlined “4,000 feared dead in our care homes”, she appeared to laugh as she said she was unable to see the paper.
“I’m showing viewers the Daily Mail front page,” Morgan said.
“I don’t know why you’re laughing. Why are you laughing?”
"I literally just asked you is it true that 4,000 elderly people have died in hospital, and all you can do is laugh? What’s the matter with you?"
After the broadcaster told her it says 4,000 people may have died in care homes, the Tory responded: “My reaction just then was because you said you’d show me something, but I’ve been asked to set up the camera so I’m looking into it, so I can’t see what you are doing.”
But when the journalist pressed Ms Whately on whether the figures quoted by the Daily Mail were correct, she tried to avoid answering the question.
And after she appeared to laugh again, Morgan asked: “I literally just asked you is it true that 4,000 elderly people have died in hospital, and all you can do is laugh? What’s the matter with you?”
Ms Whately responded: “I’m not laughing. Please don’t suggest for a minute that I’m laughing because it does feel like you’re shouting at me.”
“We literally just saw you laughing,” Morgan said.
Ms Whately was then criticised for being unable to provide figures on the number of people who have died in care homes as a result of Covid-19, but said it has increased since April 3, when 217 deaths were recorded.
However, she confirmed care home residents and workers showing symptoms of the virus will be tested.
She added: “Today we can announce we will be testing every resident in a care home who has coronavirus symptoms; we will be testing every patient discharged from a hospital into a care home; and we’re offering testing to care workers who have symptoms.”
Testing will also be offered to family members of care workers who show symptoms.