News from Westminster
News around the world is currently focussed on the spread of the Coronavirus Covid-19. I know that many constituents have concerns about the impact if the outbreak spreads further. The Health Secretary, Prime Minister, Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty & Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance have been outlining the governments’ action plan to tackle the virus, following advice from medical experts. The government will only take extreme measures if the medical evidence shows that it will be helpful, and people should follow the advice given at each stage. This is a very fast-moving situation, and by the time you read this, I have no doubt that the situation will have changed significantly. The Government has been clear that it will make decisions following the latest scientific advice from experts. I believe that this is a sensible approach.
We all know that washing our hands is a vital part of preventing the spread of the virus, and when that is not possible, to use an alcohol-based hand gel. Ideally, you should wash your hands when arriving at work or home having been out, after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, and of course after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food. It is difficult not to touch your face, but the virus can be spread by getting it on your hands and then into your eyes, nose or mouth. It gets easier with practise to stop touching your face. Masks will only have limited effect in healthy people – but if a medical professional advises you to wear one then do so.
If you are asked to self-isolate yourself or your family, follow the guidance that you have been given. This is to protect you, but also to protect more vulnerable people everywhere. We should all also be aware that friends and neighbours may need support at this time – perhaps with dropping off shopping, or a phone call to stop people getting lonely.
The entire government are focussed on dealing with this virus, as well as local authorities, the NHS and everyone across health and social care. Actions will be taken based on the best medical and scientific advice, with consideration for what is best for the population as a whole.
I was pleased that the recent budget focussed heavily on supporting communities, businesses and the wider economy through the pandemic. This is a global pandemic and I am pleased that the Government has taken decisive action to shore up our economy and help those most affected.
You can find up to date information on the situation online, and if you feel unwell, initially your best place for advice is the NHS 111 website https://111.nhs.uk/ Do not go to visit your doctor unless advised to. As always, in life threatening situation call 999, but please do save this for emergencies only.
There is general advice and information here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
And travel advice here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ and here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
I hope that by the time you read my next column the worst will be over, but in the meantime, take care of yourselves, families and neighbours, and keep washing your hands.