Business secretary takes Covid-19 test after becoming unwell during debate
Business secretary Alok Sharma has begun self-isolating at home and has taken a coronavirus test after falling ill during a session in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Sharma was in clear discomfort when speaking during the debate on the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill and stopped to clean his brow with a handkerchief on a number of occasions during his speech. Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband stopped at one stage to pass Sharma a glass of water and wished him well following the debate.
Sharma’s condition has only served to escalate safety concerns about Parliament’s return, after MPs voted this week to end the hybrid Parliament and resume physical sittings. Additional motions which will allow vulnerable members to join debates via videoconference and vote through a proxy MP present in the chamber are still to be debated.
Sharma’s spokesperson said on Wednesday: "Alok Sharma began feeling unwell when in the Chamber delivering the second reading of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill. In line with guidance he has been tested for coronavirus and is returning home to self-isolate."
Commons authorities moved to reassure MPs by saying that “additional cleaning” had been carried out in the Palace of Westminster.
Social distancing procedures were in place throughout Parliament on Wednesday, with MPs queuing two metres apart before entering the Commons individually to cast votes on the new working procedure.
Sharma is known to have met with both prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak at Number 10, Downing Street, on Tuesday.
Should Sharma’s test return a positive diagnosis, all who have been in close contact with him will be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days.