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Coronavirus

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:05 pm on 11th March 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 7:05 pm, 11th March 2020

As I said in my statement, I am delighted that Parliament is staying open. There are, of course, considerations around procedures and how the House operates. It is rightly a matter for the Leader, Mr Speaker, the House of Commons Commission and every single Member to express their view, and the hon. Lady rightly puts her view firmly on the record. As long as the public health advice is taken into account, and it is based on that advice, then, as far as I am concerned, I am sure the decisions will be got right, led by you, Mr Speaker.

The one point I will respond to is that calling for testing for everyone is not going to help, because the test is not reliable for people who are not symptomatic. That is why testing at the airport, for instance, which several people have called for, is not effective. Some of the countries that started it, stopped it. Temperature testing leads to a load of false positives, because you might be ill with something else, and that complicates the system—or it leads to lots of false negatives, with the test returning a negative even though somebody is ill, because they do not yet have enough virus in their system to be symptomatic and for the test to pick it up. Testing people who do not have symptoms is not reliable and is counterproductive, so we will not be doing it.