The host appeared to take aim at ministers for suggesting Covid-19 could be survived by showing “fortitude” and “strength of character”.
Opening Wednesday night’s programme, Maitlis also bluntly dismissed the idea that the illness is a “great leveller,” describing this as a “myth that needs debunking”.
Viewers took to social media to praise the presenter of the flagship political show, leading to her name trending on Twitter into the early hours of Thursday.
Emily Maitlis with powerful words that needed saying tonight. pic.twitter.com/yqNgxlHoJU— Huw (@ed_son)April 8, 2020
Maitlis began: “They tell us coronavirus is a great leveller. It’s not. It’s much, much harder if you’re poor. How do we stop it making social inequality even greater?”
“You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character, whatever the Prime Minister’s colleagues will tell us,” Maitlis said.
“And the disease is not a great leveller, the consequences of which everyone - rich or poor - suffers the same.”
One commenter said of the opening: “As great and as brief a comment on the truth of the pandemic as we’ve yet seen.”
Another wrote: “This virus is not affecting everyone equally. We need to look after our most vulnerable. Excellently put by Emily Maitlis.”
Others described the opening message as "extraordinary" and "powerful".
Maitlis said that some language used amid the pandemic has “often felt trite and misleading”.
And she said it was a "myth" character plays a part in how well a person can fight the coronavirus.
This was in an apparent reference to the language used by ministers such as Dominic Raab as they spoke of Mr Johnson's battle with the illness.
"I'm confident he'll pull through," said Foreign Secretary Mr Raab as he addressed the nation following the Prime Minister being taken into intensive care.
"because if there's one thing I know about this prime minister, he's a fighter".
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