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

I understand the argument that my right hon. Friend is making. Unfortunately, we have seen this play out in other countries around the world. We have seen a sharp rise in the number of cases—in the first instance, among younger people—and we have seen people make this argument, entirely understandably, because younger people are much less likely to die of this disease. Notwithstanding the point about long covid and the fact that young people can have debilitating long-term consequences from this disease, the problem is that the isolation of older people who are more likely, because of their age, to have very serious consequences has simply not been effective anywhere in the world. The challenge is that younger people may pass it on, for instance, to their parents, who, in turn, can pass it on to theirs. This disease is absolutely insidious in getting from person to person. In its natural state, it spreads on average from one person to between two and three others, and it doubles in the community every three to four days.

The challenge is that without widespread social distancing, as opposed to the segregation that my right hon. Friend proposed, all the evidence is that we will end up with more hospitalisations and more deaths. I would rather get ahead of this here, learning the lessons from what we have seen first in America, and then in Spain, and now, sadly, it is starting to happen in France. I absolutely take the point about the need to communicate more but I believe, with my whole heart, that we need to communicate that we all have a responsibility, including young people, and we cannot let this rip through any part of the population, because it will inevitably then get into all.