Matt Hancock makes statement on Covid-19 response

02 June 2020

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock updated the House on the Government's response to Covid-19.

Matt Hancock: "This crisis is very far from being over"

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock told the House "we've flattened the curve, we've protected the NHS and together we've come through the peak".

He also said that "the level of daily deaths is lower than at any time since lockdown began on the 23 March."

 He said:

"This crisis is very far from being over and we're now at a particularly sensitive moment in the course of the pandemic.

We must proceed carefully and cautiously as we work to restore freedom in this country.

Taking small steps forward and monitoring the result, being prepared to pause in our progress if that is what the public safety requires."

Mr Hancock then went on to tell the House the actions the Government is taking.

NHS test and trace is now operational. This means the public health advice has been updated.

The Health Secretary said if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, "you must get a test". 

Symptoms:

  • a fever
  • a new continuous cough
  • a change in your sense of taste and smell

He updated the House on the work the Government is doing to "understand the unequal and disproportionate way that this disease targets people, including those who are from Black or Minority Ethnic backgrounds".

He said "it is very clear that some people are significantly more vulnerable to Covid-19 and this is something I am determined to understand in full and take action to address"

He announced that Public Health England found the following:

  • age is the biggest risk factor. People who are 80 or older are 70 times more likely to die than those under 40.
  • being male is also a significant risk factor. Working age men are twice as likely to die as working age women.
  • occupation is a risk factor. Professions that involved dealing with the public in an enclosed space are at higher risk. The data from PHE showed that those working in hospitals are not more likely to catch or die from Covid-19.
  • "Diagnosis rates are higher in deprived or densely populated urban areas"
  • "Being black or from a Black and Minority Ethnic background is a major risk factor."

He concluded:

"There is much more work to do to understand the key drivers of these disparities, the relationships between the different risk factors and what we can do to close the gap."

"I'm determined that we continue to develop our understanding and shape our response."

Jonathan Ashworth: "There are other vulnerable groups highly at risk"

Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth responded to the statement.

He asked the Health Secretary why the UK has "one of the worse death rates in the world" and "what does he believe is the cause of the non-Covid excess death rates as well."

He also asked "what action will be taken to minimise risk to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people."

The Shadow Health Secretary said "there are other vulnerable groups highly at risk". He told Matt Hancock that the CQC report published today shows a 134% increase in deaths of people with learning disabilities".

He went on to say "surely it is now time to expand testing to those under 65 in receipt of adult social care."

Regarding the easing of lockdown restrictions Jonathan asked the following:

  • the biosecurity level remains at 4. Previously the Government said changes to lockdown must be warranted by the current alert level and all proposed easing of restrictions had been modelled. He asked the Health Secretary to publish the modelling.
  • for Matt Hancock to publish the total number of planned operations that have been cancelled and detail them by procedure and whether the Government plans to "step down surge capacity".
  • about testing statistics. He asked if the Health Secretary will "he start publishing again the actual numbers of people tested", tests in care homes and more.

Image: Creative Commons

Find out more

  • Watch Parliament TV: Covid-19 response
  • Transcripts of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber are available in Hansard online three hours after they happen.

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