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Government accused of causing coronavirus “panic” through “anonymous whispers”

The vast majority of publications are running on the news this morning that London is bracing for a coronavirus lockdown.

However, there’s another side to this story.

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These reports are not based on a public statement from Boris Johnson or even one of his ministers. Instead, the plan has been whispered to the press through “anonymous” government sources.

As Sky News tweeted last night: “Whitehall sources say most shops could close and transport could be restricted to key workers in London by the weekend under plans being considered in government.”

This has caused a large amount of consternation, with people saying that “Whitehall sources” are sowing panic by releasing half-baked nuggets of information.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones said:

While another Twitter user was a bit more blunt: “Whitehall sources need to f*cking stop. We’re in a pandemic situation and people are frightened.”

Indeed, do we think Londoners will be reacting calmly and rationally to these rumours, or do you think a large number of them will be queuing at the supermarket this morning?

The government’s approach to communicating with the public during this crisis has been an absolute mess.

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