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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

I am grateful for the constructive tone in which the hon. Gentleman asked the questions. This is an example of the House working well, because he and I have sometimes had cross words across this Chamber, but he has asked these two questions quite rightly. The advice given on 111 has to be dependent on the circumstances presented to the clinician giving that advice on the other end of the phone. It is really important that I do not fetter their discretion, but if he comes to me with details of the individual case and wants me to double-check that his constituent got the right advice, I am happy to do so.

On the second point, the deputy chief medical officer had a discussion with the Prime Minister today that was videoed and put on Facebook, and in that she was clear on this question about masks. There is not an advantage in wearing a mask if you are healthy—that is the advice from the medics here—but there is an advantage in respect of keeping others safe if someone who is ill wears a mask. There are also examples of when medical staff will need to wear the right type of mask to keep them safe. But the general advice is: don’t wear a mask unless you are advised to by PHE; or if you are ill, it is perfectly reasonable to wear a mask to stop infecting others—that is an act of generosity.