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  • COVID-19 General Debate 11/05/20
Dr Whitford speaking to Parliament via video link

COVID-19 General Debate 11/05/20

On Monday, I took part in the Parliamentary General Debate on COVID-19 by video link as the House of Commons observes social distancing rules.

In my speech, I paid tribute to the 200 healthcare workers who have tragically lost their lives to COVID-19 and made the point that, those who contracted the virus in a work setting, shouldn’t have been put at risk from a lack of or the wrong PPE. If getting PPE is challenging, why did the UK Government not listen to the advise of NERVTAG (New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group) and add gowns to their stockpile?

I also spoke about how hard a slog it’s been to get to where we are now, after 7 weeks of lockdown, and how the Prime Minister is now risking the progress we’ve made by sending people in England back to work without full Test-Track-Isolate in place.

Quite simply, the five steps set out by the Prime Minister in his roadmap out of lockdown have not yet been met. Number three is a sustained fall in new cases but the UK is still hovering over 4,000 new cases a day, and that is just the ones that have been proven by a test. Number four is the secure provision of testing and PPE, and neither of those has been met.

We need to take baby steps to come out of lockdown and have the right measures in place as we do, otherwise we just risk another peak:

“Telling people to go out to work is not a baby step, especially without clear workplace and transport safety measures – we only have to look at photographs of London transport this morning to see that. If the Prime Minister had wanted more people to leave home, I gently suggest that a “Stay Apart” message might have been a bit more helpful. Crucially, local public health teams must be in place to monitor the impact of any changes so that they can spot early warning signs of a local outbreak and take action, and that is not the case.”    

The video of my full speech is below and the full text can be found here in Hansard

About the author 

Heather Knox

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