Issues relating to the coronavirus are now affecting many areas of Government and decision making across the world. Of course our thoughts continue to be with those who are unwell or have lost loved ones but I am also very conscious of how difficult things are for many of our businesses at this time. At the time of writing the Chancellor is preparing to deliver the Budget and he would have hoped to do so under a very different set of circumstances. I very much hope that he is able to offer support to our local businesses to help them through such a difficult time and I will continue to make the case for this.
At the time of writing the Government and NHS advice remains as it was and the most important thing we can do is maintain a rigorous hand washing and personal hygiene regime to stop the spread of the virus. I have recently spoken to our Clinical Commissioning Group and the management at Yeovil Hospital and they are making sensible preparations for what seems like a probable increase in cases. This may include treating people in their own homes which is a practical step.
I would encourage everyone to keep looking after themselves with a good diet and lots of sleep. Although in other countries it seems to have been the big cities that have had the majority of cases this will not necessarily be the same here and in fact Devon has reported a relatively high number so far. It may be that advice moves towards self-isolation for people who have colds, coughs or other related symptoms but I would say now to take a common sense approach and do consider staying at home if you feel unwell and are able to do so.
Sadly because of concerns about coronavirus an event at Parliament that I was helping organise was postponed. We were due to welcome the UK Homecare Association to hear from some industry experts and share best practice with home care providers who have been rated as excellent by the Care Quality Commission. UKHCA took the decision that it was better not to encourage members to travel for this and I completely understand that especially given that many of the guests support the elderly and vulnerable on a daily basis. It is a great shame though and I hope we can reschedule soon and I look forward to supporting the social care industry in other ways in the future.
Finally this week I led a debate in Westminster about the importance of political neutrality in schools. I wanted to raise the issue with the Department for Education having heard a few concerns from parents in Somerset. Political campaigning is not for primary schools and I was reassured to hear that there are strict guidelines enshrined in law about promoting a balanced approach.
The latest Government advice is available here