Coronavirus

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 9th March 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 3:31 pm, 9th March 2020

I pay tribute to the Chair of the Select Committee for the way in which he has handled this—for instance, in demonstrating the need for transparency in the questioning of the chief medical officer last week. I will take away his point on the need for a central estimate. The figures out there relating to the proportion of people who will get the virus are a reasonable worst-case scenario. On the central estimate, there are still things that we do not know about the spread of the virus through China—in particular, whether the degree to which the slowing of the increase in cases in China is because the virus has reached a large proportion of the population and there is a large proportion who are not symptomatic, which would mean that the mortality rate was lower than otherwise thought; or whether the significant measures that the Chinese have taken are having a significant effect, and that therefore, as and when they are lifted, the virus will continue to spread. Either of those options is possible, and we do not know which one it is, but whichever it is, the approach that we are taking in the UK is the right response to both of those scenarios.