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Health Secretary makes statement on Covid-19

29 June 2020 (updated on 29 June 2020)

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Health Secretary, Matt Hancock updated the House on local action to tackle coronavirus.

Matt Hancock: "the number of positive new cases below a thousand a day."

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock told the House that the coronavirus is “now in decline at a national level” with “the number of positive new cases below a thousand a day, and the number of recorded deaths yesterday was 25.” 

He also told the House that alongside the easing of national restrictions, we have increasingly taken local action, including the closing of Western hospital to new admissions in May, after a cluster of cases, as well as closing two GP surgeries in Enfield and a meat processing factory in Kirkleese.

He said:

"We've put in place a system to tie together local and national action based on insight provided by the Joint Biosecurity Center, working closely with Public Health England and the NHS. Analysis is based on three levels of spread. Individual cases are identified and managed by NHS test and trace. When many cases are found at one setting, be it a care home for instance, a factory or a hospital – that is classified as a cluster."

When clusters that are linked to one another are identified, that would be defined as an outbreak. 

Mr Hancock then went on to tell the House “yesterday I chaired an emergency local action committee gold meeting specifically to deal with the outbreak in Leicester.” He added that whilst cases in most parts of the country have fallen since the peak, in Leicester they have continued to rise. Having taken clinical advice, the government have decided that from tomorrow non-essential retail in Leicester will have to close. 

Jonathan Ashworth: "areas that do see flare ups will need greater response."

Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth responded to the statement.

He asked the Health Secretary: “Doesn't he agree that if we are as a nation to ease from lockdown smoothly, then those areas that do see flare ups will need greater response?” 

He also asked if whatever issues there are over the data sharing protocols can be resolved, as well asking if it can be ensured that the data also captures ethnicity and occupation.

Mr Ashworth told the House that he supports the measures to extend the lockdown in Leicester, but asked the Health Secretary to clarify “what powers he has to enforce those extensions, and whether he needs to bring forward any legislation or any statutory instruments?” 

He went on to add that this decision will affect many businesses in Leicester, and asked whether there will be any adequate financial support for this extension period, and whether employees affected will be eligible to stay furloughed. 

Speaking about the disproportionate number of BAME individuals who have been diagnosed with coronavirus, the Shadow Secretary told the House: 

“It means a city like Leicester is particularly at risk […] Leicester is a proudly diverse city, but we also have one of the highest child poverty rates in the country. Those who are in work are often in low paid, precarious employment, our housing is overcrowded, our public services have been cut back, years of austerity has taken its toll.”

He added that extra support, extra testing and extra resources to help people in Leicester. 

Image: Pixabay

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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