Edward Miliband debates with Department of Health and Social Care

There have been 1 exchanges between Edward Miliband and Department of Health and Social Care

Mon 16th March 2020 Covid-19 3 interactions (142 words)


Edward Miliband Excerpts
Monday 16th March 2020

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department of Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard

My right hon. Friend is precisely correct on the third question. The difference between the advice for seven days and 14 is precisely as follows. If you have symptoms yourself, if you live on your own you should self-isolate for seven days, but if you live in a household with others, the whole household now needs to stay at home for 14 days. The reason is that if you live in a household with someone who has coronavirus it is highly likely that you will catch it, so it is important, to protect against onward transmission, that everybody stays at home. That is the reason for the distinction between the seven days and the 14 days, and I hope that is clear—seven days for individuals, 14 for households.

On the point about the World Health Organisation saying that we should “test, test, test”, I wholeheartedly agree. We have continued the increase in testing in this country throughout this outbreak. The point that was made last week was that as the increase in the number of cases continues, so our testing capability must increase faster, and at this stage we have to make sure that the use of the tests we have are prioritised. As we expand testing capability, we will expand the number of people who can get hold of those tests. I understand the frustrations of those who want a test, but the whole House will agree that we have to make sure that we use those tests on the people who need them most, which means saving lives in hospitals.

On the point about the over-70s, to reiterate the answer that I gave a moment ago, the advice to everybody is to avoid unnecessary social contact. For the over-70s, for their own protection, that is strongly advised. The shielding, which is essentially reducing all contact as much as possible, is for those who have underlying health conditions and will be contacted by the NHS. The precise details of all these will be published on the gov.uk website so that everybody can see not only the answers I am giving to the questions, but the precise wording of what we expect everybody to do, as I have set out in the statement.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Hansard

Can I say to the Secretary of State that the House has always come together at times of national crisis as one, and that is the spirit across the House today? In that spirit, can I ask him to match the unprecedented public health measures that he has announced today with unprecedented economic measures to support all the businesses, large and small, their workers, and the self-employed, who will be affected by the measures announced today? We have seen across the world—for example, in Denmark—workers’ wages being guaranteed by a combination of Government and employers. It is no fault of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that his Budget last Wednesday is now out of date, but can I ask the Secretary of State to urge him to come back to the House with economic measures that match the gravity of the moment?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard

I absolutely understand the point that the right hon. Member is making, and he is right to make it. Of course, these are matters for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, rather than me. There was a G7 call today, in which the Prime Minister participated, during which economic considerations like this were considered. Finally, every single one of us in the House will have businesses in our constituencies that are already facing the brunt of this virus. We saw from the collapse of Flybe right at the start—that feels like weeks ago—the very significant economic consequences, and we have our eyes wide open to those.