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Covid-19 Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:23 pm on 24th March 2020.

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Photo of Owen Thompson Owen Thompson SNP Whip 2:23 pm, 24th March 2020

I extend our continued thanks and gratitude to all who are working around the clock to help keep us all safe, and to look after us and the most vulnerable in our communities. I also extend our thanks to the millions of people who have already acted on the Government’s advice to stay at home. The importance of that cannot be stressed nearly enough, because that is what we all need to do to protect our friends and families and the vulnerable people in our communities. It is deeply unfortunate that some employers, such as Sports Direct, seem to be acting in an entirely irresponsible manner, and I welcome the Secretary of State’s comments about that.

In looking to see what more we can do, will the Secretary of State outline when he expects all frontline NHS staff to have the PPE that they need? We need to do everything we can to support them, given the extent of the risks that they are facing. How many additional ventilators have we managed to procure since the Prime Minister put out the call to manufacturers? Are the Government planning to accept the EU’s offer to share in central procurement of ventilators, testing kits and PPE?

Scotland has a number of qualified doctors and nurses who arrived in the country during the refugee crisis. Will the Secretary of State commit to talking to the Home Secretary about what possible actions could be taken to relax the existing rules, to allow those qualified medical professionals to support the country that they have adopted as their home?

In the light of the outcome of the Keeling study, which was published by the Government on 20 March, is the Secretary of State ensuring that we have rapid and effective contact tracing? The review showed that such action could reduce the number of people infected by each case from 3.11 to 0.21, and that would be a significant step towards greater containment of the current outbreak.

Finally, I stress to the Secretary of State the need to impress on other Cabinet members the urgency of finding support for the self-employed, who are still waiting to find out what position they will find themselves in. We know that people with no financial backing come under pressures that may have an impact on their health, which would put further pressure on the system.