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Health Secretary Matt Hancock will shortly face MPs over Dominic Cummings' claims he lied to colleagues about his handling of coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Mr Cummings, the prime minister's former chief adviser, said Mr Hancock should have been sacked by the prime minister.

And Labour has told the BBC Mr Hancock should go if he "intentionally" misled colleagues and the public.

But Mr Hancock's spokesman "absolutely" rejected Mr Cummings' claims.

He would continue to work closely with the prime minister in rolling out vaccines, the spokesman added.

The health secretary will appear in the House of Commons at around 10:30 BST to answer an urgent question tabled by Labour about the government's handling of Covid.

More than 127,000 people have died in the UK with 28 days of a positive test for Covid, according to the government's coronavirus dashboard.

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During a seven-hour appearance before a committee of MPs investigating "lessons learnt" from the pandemic on Wednesday, Mr Cummings was scathing about Mr Hancock.

He argued that the health secretary "should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet Room and publicly".

media caption"Tens of thousands of people died who didn't need to die", Dominic Cummings told MPs
On care homes, Mr Cummings said: "Hancock told us in the Cabinet Room that people were going to be tested before they went back to care homes... We only subsequently found out that that hadn't happened.

"Now the government rhetoric was 'We put a shield around care homes' and 'Blah, blah, blah' - it was complete nonsense."

Mr Cummings also attacked Mr Hancock for setting a "stupid" target of offering 100,000 Covid tests a day by the end of April last year, saying it had "hugely disrupted" efforts to "properly" establish a testing system.

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'Steve might still be here'
Fran Hall and her late husband Steve
Fran Hall, from Denham, Buckinghamshire, lost her husband Steve to Covid, three weeks after their wedding.

She said: "I feel really strongly that if decisions right back at the beginning... had been made differently and the virus hadn't been allowed to spread the way that it did into care homes, into hospitals, into the community... that Steve might still be here," she said. "It breaks my heart to think of that."

Fran added that she could not "wait until next year" for the official inquiry the government has promised to get under way.

Asked about Dominic Cummings' apology for his role in setting coronavirus policy, she said: "A sorry doesn't cut. For me the best apology would be making sure that things change."

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Asked if Mr Hancock should resign following Mr Cummings' claims, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner told BBC Breakfast: "No minister who lies to the public, especially not with the consequences that we have had, should stay in their post."

She accused the health secretary of "intentionally lying and misleading" - which, she said, had "led to thousands of deaths in our care homes".

Ms Rayner also accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of having a "cavalier attitude" towards people in care homes, adding that "the government should have protected them [but] left them exposed to a deadly virus".

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And Anita Astle, director of the National Care Association said Mr Hancock did not have her "full confidence".

There had been a "delay in relevant, accurate guidance" on Covid for care homes, adding: "We could it was coming as it spread across the world, but we had no strategy and when guidance was issued we were in a state of flux."

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said: "We absolutely reject Mr Cummings' claims about the health secretary.

"The health secretary will continue to work closely with the prime minister to deliver the vaccine rollout, tackle the risks posed by variants and support the NHS and social care sector to recover from this pandemic."

On Wednesday evening, Mr Hancock said he had not seen Mr Cummings' evidence session in full, adding: "Instead I've been dealing with getting the vaccination rollout going, especially to over-30s, and saving lives."

During his evidence session, Mr Cummings - who left Downing Street last autumn following a power struggle - also told the committee:

"Tens of thousands" of people died needlessly because of government mistakes
The prime minister is "unfit for the job"
Mr Johnson said he would rather see "bodies pile high" than take the country into a third lockdown - the PM has denied making this comment
A herd immunity strategy was dropped when the likely death toll became clear
His trip to County Durham during the lockdown had "undermined public confidence"
The PM had offered to be injected "live on TV with the virus" to show the public there was nothing to fear
The running of the government "kind of collapsed" when Mr Johnson was hospitalised with Covid
The PM's fiancee Carrie Symonds "wanted to get rid of" him
Downing Street said "all sides" of the story would be heard at the upcoming public inquiry into the pandemic, adding that the prime minister would be "getting on with the job" on Thursday by visiting a hospital.

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