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Jonathan Ashworth response to Coronavirus Statement

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to the Government’s Coronavirus Statement in the House, said “I’m grateful to the Secretary of State for updating the House. Our thoughts and condolences are with the loves ones of the eight people who have sadly lost their lives because of the virus.

“Can he convey our very best wishes to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State who is in our thoughts as are her staff – both in her Departmental Private Office and Parliamentary offices – who will I’m sure be worried as well.

“Can I thank the Secretary of State for the advice he has provided on the operation of Parliament. It is crucial we continue to raise issues on behalf of our constituents and hold ministers to account.

“What is the advice for those who work on the estate, feel ill, presenting with symptoms but have not, as far as they are aware, been in contact with the hon lady? Should they be tested as a matter of routine?

“We welcome the opportunity to discuss emergency legislation. He knows we are supportive of the action of the CMO and strongly agree we should be guided by the science.

“Can I just press him further on the epidemiology and the lastest medical advice, and about the appropriate moment in which we should move into the delay stage and adopt further social distancing strategies?

“What is his response to those who are saying – the editor in chief of the Lancet and others in the global science community – suggesting we are not following the epidemiology in the way we should, and that we are placing too much emphasis on behavioural science?

“There are countries taking different approaches across the world.

“Tonight 3,000 Atletico Madrid fans are allowed to arrive in Liverpool for the champions league game – but if the game was in madrid they wouldn’t be allowed to go to the stadium because of Spanish social distancing.

“Can he just explain again for the benefit of our constituents, the thinking around why we are not yet taking more stringent social distancing measures?

“Turning to the Budget, it would be churlish of me not to recognise the extra funding for the NHS and social care announced as part of the Covid -19 response fund. It is something I have long been calling for.

“Can he quickly tell us how the money will be allocated, and what will happen when it is depleted? The NHS is seeking to scale up intensive care beds 7 fold now – at some point that fund will need topping up. Do we have to wait for the Spending Review process in the summer?

“He knows we are keen to be supportive but I have to say it is hugely disappointing, and astonishing frankly, that we still have no meaningful clarity on public health funding. I ask for the umpteenth time – when will Directors of Public Health – responsible for local coronavirus multi agency responses – know their allocations for the next financial year starting in April?

“We need to do we all we can to support NHS staff. The NHS Confederation has just called for the suspension of CQC inspections. Does he agree given the circumstances that this seems a sensible request?

“This is now an official pandemic as designated by the WHO. We all have to do our bit. The government has our continued co operation because public health, wellbeing and safety must come first.”