Covid-19 Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 8th September 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 1:50 pm, 8th September 2020

The Chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee precisely sets out our goal. Some countries—not only in the far east but closer to home—have seen a rise in cases, especially among younger people, and taken action that has turned the curve. That is particularly true in, for instance, Belgium, which we were very worried about a month ago: the case rate came right down when Belgium put a curfew in place. We are taking local action here, and our approach to local action has been commended by the World Health Organisation.

Of course, the responsibility is on all of us. I know that this is a riff that we talked about a lot in March, April and May, as the cases were coming right down, but we all have a role to play in this, because the local action and the test and trace—actions that we take in Government and with local authorities—are only the second and third line of defence. The first line of defence, for everybody in this Chamber and all our constituents, is to follow the social-distancing advice. We will be stepping up the communications and making sure that people are reminded very clearly of the rules, and we will also be taking action to step up enforcement, to make sure that we can keep this virus under control until we can build up both the mass testing capacity and ultimately, as I mentioned in my statement, the vaccine on which the scientists are doing great work, although all vaccine work is uncertain until we get clarity from the regulators that a vaccine is safe and effective to use.