“Let’s not forget what together has been achieved”: Health Secretary updates Commons on Covid response
On Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock updated the House of Commons on the government’s Covid-19 response, declaring that the UK has “flattened the curve” and halved the number of people in hospital with Covid compared to the peak of the pandemic.
Hancock used his address to pledge a further £600 million of funding to support care homes in England, ensuring that testing in such settings is widely available and each has a named NHS clinical lead on site.
He said: “Let’s not forget what together has been achieved. We flattened the curve and now the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is half what it was at the peak.
“We protected the NHS, and the number of patients in critical care is down by two thirds. Mercifully, the number of deaths across all settings is falling.
“We are protecting the nation’s care homes with a further £600 million available directly to care homes in England and we’ve prioritised testing for care homes throughout and we’ve made sure every care home has a named NHS clinical lead and we’re requiring local authorities to conduct daily reviews of the situation on the ground, so that every care home gets the support it needs each and every day.”
Hancock also praised the British people for their “resolve and sacrifice” which has allowed the country to move into the next phase of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Notably, the Health Secretary also confirmed that anosmia has been added as an official symptom of coronavirus by the UK’s chief medical officers, meaning that anyone losing their sense of smell or who is experiencing a change in their normal sense of smell or taste should immediately self-isolate.
Hancock added: “By updating the case definition in line with the latest science, we can more easily recognise the presence of the virus and more effectively fight it.”
Test eligibility has also been expanded, meaning everyone age five or over who is experiencing symptoms can receive a test in any of the four constituent countries of the UK.
100,678 were carried out on Wednesday, with the government looking to increase capacity to 200,000 per day soon.
Despite the significant headway in the fight against the virus, Hancock urged the British public not to become complacent, in a week which saw the widest lifting of restrictions and therefore comes with the most risk of rising cases.
He said: “We need everyone, everyone, to self-isolate if they have or if someone in their household has symptoms. And we need everyone to keep washing their hands and following the social distancing rules.
“We need everyone to stay alert because this is a national effort and everyone has a part to play. The goal is to protect life and allow us, carefully and cautiously, to get back to doing more of the things that make life worth living.
“That is our goal, we are making progress towards it, and I commend this statement to the House.”