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Covid-19 Update - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:42 pm on 17th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State 3:42 pm, 17th March 2020

My Lords, on the specific issue of ventilators, I am sure the noble Lord followed the announcement. We have had a very positive response from various manufacturers in the UK on the issue of addressing any shortfall of ventilators that may occur. He raises an important point on the new restrictions imposed by the European Union. The Commission President has clearly indicated, for example, that medical staff should be able to travel freely into the UK, as are transporters of goods. She has also made clear that UK travellers will not be affected by the measures imposed. We certainly believe that supplies will continue without hindrance. However, there are challenges domestically for each country in the European Union, as we have found here in the UK, and there will undoubtedly be challenges that are taken together on issues of supplies reaching people as efficiently as they are.

I draw an analogy with the challenge we have had in certain supermarkets up and down the country, which has actually been caused not by a certain shortage of food but by people’s practices. Supply chains are set up to cater for a delivery of a certain quantity to a certain place. If a person is going in and buying 10 things instead of one, that has an implication in the supply chain. That is why the Government have implored everyone not to be panicked by this, to be responsible and to look out for each other. Ultimately, if I have one piece of advice to share from the Dispatch Box, it is exactly that: we need to ensure that we look in front of us, behind us and to our left and right to ensure that we are equally looking after those around us, as well as ourselves.