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Matt Hancock MP makes statement on Wuhan Coronavirus

23 January 2020

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The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has informed the House about the coronavirus outbreak and the UK's response to protect the British public.

The Chinese city of Wuhan has been the site of an outbreak of 2019-nCoV, a new respiratory virus, which has now spread to a number of other countries such a Korea, Thailand and the United States. 

There have been 571 cases of the virus confirmed by the Chinese government and 17 people are reported to have died. The cities of Wuhan and Huanggang are now under lockdown.

Matt Hancock MP: "proportionate, precautionary measures"

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, told the House that the situation in Wuhan is "rapidly developing" and while most cases are currently non-fatal, authorities are expecting fatalities to rise further.

Mr Hancock outlined the "proportionate, precautionary measures" the UK has taken on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, Public Health England and international experts, such as enhanced monitoring on flights from Wuhan city and guidance issued on all direct flights from China.

He also told MPs that the NHS is fully prepared to deal with any cases.

The Minister for stated:

"The public can be assured that the whole of the UK is always well-prepared for these types of outbreaks and will remain vigilant and keep our response under constant review in the light of emerging scientific evidence."

Sharon Hodgson MP: "a global pandemic can be avoided"

Responding on behalf of the Opposition, The Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon Hodgson, thanked Public Health England and the Department for Health for their work.

However, she said that a passenger arriving from Wuhan yesterday said that he had gone through "virtually no screening at all, but was given a leaflet". Mrs Hodgson asked the Minister if flights from other Chinese cities would be monitored and, if so, when that monitoring would begin.

She also asked if specific advice would be given to UK citizens travelling to China who may have health conditions, and if there were contingency plans and funds in place to deal with further spread of the virus if it does reach the UK.

The Shadow Minister for Public Health told MPs:

"There is a chance that a global pandemic can be avoided if governments across the world take the right measures in a timely fashion."

Image: Chen Zhenhai/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

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