I am closely following the situation with COVID-19 and it's effects on our nation and constituency. Let me reassure you that the NHS is well prepared to deal with incidents like this, and I am assured that the Government has a clear path to ensure the public is protected..
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced strengthened legal powers to bolster public health protections against coronavirus. The regulations have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission in this country by keeping individuals in isolation where public health professionals believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus.
The UK is one of the first countries to have developed a world-leading test for the new coronavirus, and the NHS is ready to respond appropriately to any cases that emerge. Clinicians in both primary and secondary care have already received advice, covering initial detection and investigation of possible cases, infection prevention and control, and clinical diagnostics. The Government has also provided £20 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to produce a vaccine to combat coronavirus.
UK aid to the World Health Organisation (WHO) will help prevent the spread of the virus in developing countries, by supporting them to rapidly identify and care for patients with symptoms. Additional experts funded by UK aid will be deployed to the WHO to help coordinate the international response.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice remains under constant review to ensure it reflects the latest expert assessments of risks to British people. The latest guidance can be found on the FCO’s “Travel advice: coronavirus” page. The advice continues to be to check FCO advice before travel. Experts continue to monitor the situation and any possible changes to travel advice will be informed by the best possible scientific advice. At this point the Government is not restricting entry to the UK, however there are a number of enhanced checks in place for arrivals from the most severely impacted areas. For example, direct flights from these areas are required to provide a declaration to airport authorities stating that all their passengers are well, prior to landing. Experts continue to monitor the situation and any possible changes will be informed by the best possible scientific advice.
The Government recently launched a public information campaign setting out how everyone can take steps to minimise risk to them and their families:
If you would like further information about self-isolation, or the latest information, please visit the Government guidance here:
The above page is being updated every day at 2pm until further notice, in addition to press briefings and parliamentary statements.
If you have any concerns about your own health or symptoms, please call 111.
It is clear that the virus will be with us for some time, but I know my ministerial colleagues and others are working around the clock to ensure to ensure the public is protected.
I will continue to closely follow this issue and, where appropriate, provide further updates.