Pulling together to tackle the coronavirus crisis
Statement from Priti Patel, the MP for Witham:
With the coronavirus outbreak spreading we face the biggest public health crisis in a generation. I know that the speed at which this virus is spreading is extremely worrying and many of us will already know of people personally who have tested positive or are self-isolating, as a precaution. Our thoughts are with all those affected and the families of those who have lost loved ones.
As a country, we all have our part to play in preventing the spread of this virus and the care, kindness and resourcefulness that the British people have in abundance has been admirably displayed in recent days. People are already taking action to protect themselves and others, for example, by following advice to wash hands more frequently and for at least 20 seconds. Charities, community groups and businesses are also rising to the occasion by seeing what they can do to help. There will be more disruption to our way of life and it is important that we all remain calm and take decisions based on the best scientific advice available, at the time.
The Government has been working hard to monitor the situation and putting in place plans and strategies to protect the vulnerable, safeguard our health services and flatten the rate at which this virus is spreading.
This action has already meant that the speed at which coronavirus is spreading in the UK is slower than in many other major countries. Our testing, surveillance and tracing measures are among the most advanced and this has helped our country to prepare and ease pressure on the NHS. At the core of the Government’s approach is a four stage strategy to contain, delay, research and mitigate. The best available science is informing the decisions that the Government is making in an open and transparent way.
Last week, in the Budget, the Government made available the resources needed to address this emergency, including more funding for health services and research. Additional support and assistance has been made available to businesses and those who could be infected or self-isolated.
However, everyone is rightly concerned about this virus and have many questions and worries. There is an extensive public information campaign underway and updates on the latest situation and advice can be found online at gov.uk/coronavirus.
I am working with my ministerial colleagues across Government and our focus and resolve is clear. We will take all steps necessary to prepare our country for the task ahead and this will include new interventions to ‘shield’ the vulnerable from coronavirus, the introduction of temporary powers in case they are needed, and action to ensure the NHS has the equipment it needs.
At a local level in Essex local councils and NHS bodies should be coordinating their responses and I am in contact with them. Contingency plans should be developed and put in place to ensure the continuity of key services being delivered and support given to the most in need and vulnerable people. Planning includes support for those infected, help for those in self-isolation and dealing with the effects of significant numbers of the workforce becoming infected.
This challenge that we face cannot be under-estimated but by listening to the best scientific advice, following a clear plan and pulling together, our country can get through this.
Priti Patel MP – 15th March 2020