Ministers have been accused of trying to 'pass the buck' on their own poor handling of the coronavirus crisis after reports Public Health England (PHE) is to be broken up.

The Covid-19 response work of PHE is to be merged with NHS Test and Trace to form a new body designed specifically to deal with pandemics, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

Other aspects of its operations – such as tackling obesity – could be handed over to councils and family doctors, the paper said.

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Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran said: "These reports suggest that yet again the government is attempting to pass the buck for its own failings.

"We urgently need full transparency over these plans so they can be properly scrutinised, including how this fits in with the new Joint Biosecurity Centre and how the new director will be chosen."

The Lib Dem added: "Ministers must be open and honest about the mistakes that were made at the start of this pandemic instead of engaging in a Westminster blame game.

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"The cross-party inquiry I'm chairing is focused on holding the government to account and ensuring lessons are learned. We will be publishing recommendations over the coming weeks to ensure the country is better prepared ahead of a potential second wave, it's vital that ministers take these on board."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Public Health England have played an integral role in our national response to this unprecedented global pandemic.

“We have always been clear that we must learn the right lessons from this crisis to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position, both as we continue to deal with Covid-19 and to respond to any future public health threat.”