Covid-19 Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:50 am on 10th September 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 11:50 am, 10th September 2020

We did protect the NHS all the way through the peak, and this country can rightly be proud of the building of the Nightingale hospitals. We saw a hospital in China being built in two weeks and lots of people told me that we would never do that here, but we did it here in nine days. I am very proud of the team who delivered on that. The strategic goal is to keep the virus down. The problem is that if the R goes above 1 and the numbers start going up, they inexorably continue to rise. So it is not okay just to let it rise a bit; the problem is that once it is going up, it keeps going up unless we take action. That is one lesson we learned in the spring and we have re-learned it; we can see it if we simply compare what has happened in Spain, France and Belgium. In the first two, the curves have kept going up, whereas Belgium took significant action, similar to what we announced yesterday, and its curve has come down again. So that is why there is not a trade-off between taking action, even if it is tough action, and protecting the economy and, for instance, the ability to open schools. I hope that that answers my hon. Friend’s question. We have seen a number of countries around the world announce that they are going for an eradication strategy—indeed, the Scottish Government announced that—but this virus has shown that it is very, very hard to eradicate. We want to keep it under control while we pursue both the mass testing and then the vaccine, to deal with it once and for all.