"With more than 1,000 new United Kingdom cases of Covid-19 being recorded for the fifth day in a row, we must seriously question whether now is the right time for undertaking such a seemingly major restructure and detract from the very immediate need to respond to the pandemic", said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association's ruling council, according to the paper.
The institute's new chief will report to ministers at the Department of Health and to Professor Chris Whitty, England's Chief Medical Officer, in a move which gives political appointees direct control over its response to pandemics.
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said the problems with PHE are "ministerial failures whatever Tory MPs say".
"Public Health England should be part of a fully-integrated Public Health and NHS both locally and nationally".
"Where does this leave other important health prevention priorities for example on sexual health services, drug and alcohol services and obesity that PHE carries out?", he told The Mirror. Lib Dem health spokeswoman Munira Wilson wrote that government ministers were shifting responsibility for their "shambolic management of the pandemic to a bureaucratic reorganisation" and accused Hancock of failing to sufficiently introduce the Test and Trace system.
"We must absolutely not allow PHE and its staff to shoulder the blame for wider failings and Government decisions".
A DHSC spokesman said: 'Public Health England have played an integral role in our national response to this unprecedented global pandemic.
PHE is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care and has been in operation since 2013 after its creation under former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
"We recognise that there have been some serious challenges in terms of our response to Covid-19, including the timing of the lockdown, the ongoing ineffectiveness of Tier 2 Track and Trace and postcode-level data previously not being available to Directors of Public Health". To do otherwise risks avoidable mistakes in subsequent waves of the pandemic which will only harm the public's health further.
"Firstly, Government must reverse its sidelining of public health".
It will be modelled on Germany's Robert Koch Institute, which used an independent agency to take control of the country's response to the pandemic.
"It may be appropriate for the functions to sit in different agencies - but clear accountability for outcomes in health improvement, health inequalities and health protection must be established". The 25% real-term cut in its funding since 2015 must be reversed.