This week it feels we have entered a new phase of facing reality with the coronavirus. What was a threat from overseas is now in our country and the number of cases will rise, but hopefully can be controlled. Measures to contain the spread and help protect those most at risk, who tend to be older, are sensible. Our area seems thankfully light on cases so far.
The Prime Minister made a statement on Tuesday along with the government’s Chief Medical Officer and Scientific Advisor. A great deal of planning and thought is going into their approach. Measures such as school closures are not something to be taken lightly and the Government is clear these will be used if really advisable. We would need for example to try to make sure they did not damage availability of key health and social care workers or cause riskier childcare by more at risk grandparents.
Aside from advice on isolation for travellers returning from affected parts of the world, the current guidance puts a real emphasis on washing hands. This sounds simple but statistics show makes a huge difference in the way diseases can spread. Do look at the Government website which is updated daily https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
The NHS can be under pressure sometimes but compared with other parts of the world where the virus is spreading in a more uncontrolled manner we are miles ahead in terms of healthcare and public health advice. The professionalism, dedication and caring of our healthcare professionals makes them the best in the world and they will help us get though this.
I would just add to the "wash hands well" official advice by asking we all try to help the system response by looking after ourselves as much as we can. Healthy low sugar diet, enough sleep and moderate exercise can make big differences in resistance to infection and the severity and danger of symptoms. Also check on your friends and neighbours, especially if they are older or isolated. Some isolation can help in fighting the spread, but strategies for communication and reassurance are good to have in advance, and hopefully as the weather warms the worst risks will pass.
This week in the House of Commons I was at the statement on trade negotiations with the US and took the opportunity to raise what the Government can do to help market our high-quality local products in the States and elsewhere. I mentioned Somerset cheddar and brie but there are countless others from helicopters to cider, although perhaps not together.
Finally, I have secured a debate in Parliament next week about the importance of political neutrality in schools. I have heard some concerning reports both in the media and first-hand about our children being given a slanted view of the world and will raise it with the Department for Education and give others the chance to do so. If you have any thoughts on this please do get in touch.