Covid-19 Response

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:57 pm on 22nd April 2020.

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Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health and Social Care), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe) 12:57 pm, 22nd April 2020

Like all MPs, I pay tribute to health and care staff across the UK. Particularly in view of the key role of care workers and in recognition of their contribution, will the Secretary of State undertake to ensure that they are paid at least the real living wage, as has been the case for some years in Scotland?

Like everyone, I welcome the stabilisation of covid cases, but does the Secretary of State accept that the testing and contact tracing must be in place before any easing of the lockdown, to avoid resurgence and a second peak? Will he achieve 100,000 tests a day by next week? If not, when? How accurate are the tests? A 25% false negative rate has been reported.

I know the Secretary of State is a fan of phone apps, so I am glad to hear him recognise the need to increase public health staff both to conduct and co-ordinate contact tracing. Will he reverse the 20% cut in public health funding in England since 2015, to ensure that those staff can be recruited now?

Finally, when I raised the issue of asymptomatic spread on 11 March, the Secretary of State claimed that it was rare, but actually it accounts for about 50%. How is he taking that into account in his covid strategy?