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Statement on COVID-19

11 March 2020

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With news of a growing number of Coronavirus cases in the UK, Matt Hancock, Secretary for Health and Social Care, updates the House on Coronavirus.

Latest reports show that 456 people have now been diagnosed with coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) in the UK, with the illness responsible for eight deaths in the UK.

Matt Hancock: Emergency legislation will be "set out before the House next week"

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, opened his statement by informing the House that the World Health Organisation has declared Coronavirus as a global pandemic.

He went on to say that Parliament will be kept open but may have to "function differently".

He says: "as of today, here at home, 456 people have tested positive and eight people are now sadly confirmed to have died."

Mr Hancock says:

"The advice of the Chief Medical Officer is that close contact is defined as being within 2 metres of someone who has active symptoms for more than 15 minutes."

"The official advice is clear, people should go to NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 if you think you have symptoms of Coronavirus, notably a cough or fever."

He also informed the House that emergency legislation will be put in place. The Bill "will include measures to include measures to help in the national effort to keep vital public services running, to support businesses, and to help everyone to play their part. "

The proposed Bill will be set out before the House next week.

Jonathan Ashworth: When will be the "appropriate moment to move into the so-called delay stage?"

Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jonathan Ashworth, expressed his condolences to those who have lost loved ones due to Coronavirus.

He welcomed the statement from Mr Hancock but asked whether he could offer "extra advice" regarding staff on the Parliamentary Estate who feel ill and appear to have symptoms, and whether they should get tested.

He also asked the Government what the "appropriate moment" would be to move into the delay stage and "start adopting some of the more stringent social distancing strategies."

Mr Ashworth concluded by asking:

"Can he (Mr Hancock) just explain, for the benefit of our constituents, what the thinking is in the UK and why it appears to differ from some of the other nations in Europe?"

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Image: PA