oris Johnson is today beginning a period of self-isolation after meeting a Tory MP who later tested positive for coronavirus.
Mr Johnson, who was admitted to intensive care with coronavirus in April, is “well” and does not have any symptoms of the virus, a Downing Street spokesperson said.
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1605514075Hancock refuses to comment on Cummings’s Barnard Castle debacle
Asked on BBC Breakfast whether Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle had undermined the Government’s public health message, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m not going to go into that, what matters is what happens from now on in.
“The mass testing and expansion that we’re announcing today is actually brought to life by the fact that this testing capacity matters for a reason.
“Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield, a brilliant local MP, he got a test within a couple of hours of phoning 119. He then got the test result incredibly quickly.”
1605513767‘You can be anybody in this country – we have the same rules’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Boris Johnson would be able to work fully from home and was “very sprightly”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “The wonders of video conferencing mean that you can be incredibly effective even when self-isolating if you’re in the sort of job where you can do that.
“I’d say probably the majority of my meetings with the Prime Minister are over video conference – of course I see him as well – and you can be really effective that way.”
Asked if Mr Johnson and Lee Anderson were two metres apart during their meeting, including during a photocall, he said: “Well there is social distancing and there are rules around Downing Street being a Covid-secure workplace but the central point is that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate that is what you must do.
“You could be the Prime Minister, you can be anybody in this country – we have the same rules and we all abide by them.”
1605513737Anti-vax group formed by health workers is ‘entirely inappropriate’ – Hancock
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked about hundreds of health and care staff who have formed a group opposed to vaccinations, wearing masks and testing in hospitals.
He told Times Radio: “Being opposed to vaccinations where they have been through the rigorous safety processes is entirely inappropriate.
“And I wouldn’t advise it for anybody, because we don’t propose, and allow vaccines in this country, unless they pass some of the most stringent safety requirements in the world.
“Getting a vaccine – whether it’s for flu or hopefully for coronavirus – is something that not only protects you but protects the people around you. So it’s a really important step.”
He added: “The whole of medicine is the story of advances that are based on science and vaccines are one of the most important advances based on science in the history of medicine.
“And other than clean water have probably saved more lives than anything else in the history of humanity.
“That’s what the science tells us, and I think that we should be guided by that science.”
1605513451The UK music industry continues to be pummelled by the pandemic…1605512818Even if reinfection rates are minute, PM is right to self-isolate
Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said the rules that mean Boris Johnson has to self-isolate “probably are sensible”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there have been more than 25 confirmed cases of Covid-19 reinfection globally, but added: “I think most of us think the rate of reinfection is quite a lot higher than that, but not enormous.”
Prof Altmann said: “I think my bottom line is not to be alarmist because whatever the risk is, it is low. My sense from some of our data and other people’s data is that it’s the people who’ve made the poorest and most negligible antibody response the first time round who are most at risk of reinfection.
“So that’s maybe 10 per cent of everybody out there who’s been infected in the first wave.”
He added: “If we’ve learnt anything since the beginning of 2020, it’s that this is an incredibly infectious and scary virus and you can’t take it too seriously.
“So all the things that we know about – using masks, well-ventilated work spaces – following those rules really matter. And if you’ve got one take-home message from a reinfection discussion, it’s not to be blase because you’ve had it or you think you’ve had it.”
1605512587Government defends partnerships with Tory-backing companies
Matt Hancock said: “We’ve worked with an unbelievable range of companies.
“We’ve brought in people from all across the country to help with this national effort – some of them I knew before, some of them I didn’t.
“That’s the nature of what happens when you bring in a huge range of people to help with what has been a massive challenge.
“And if you note down all the ones where there were previous contacts and don’t note down all the ones where there weren’t then of course you can give that sort of impression but it’s not a fair or accurate reflection of what went on.”
1605512417We’ve put aside politics in this pandemic – Hancock
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was probed about a report from the Sunday Times which said that the Government has awarded £1.5 billion to companies linked to the Conservative party during the coronavirus pandemic.
He told Times Radio: “We’ve brought in an extraordinary broad range of companies and many of them who haven’t been working with Government before because we haven’t had a pandemic of this scale before.
“So think about the testing capacity. It’s nothing to do with any political links, it’s all about building a massive testing capacity in this country that we haven’t had in the past.
“And the need to do that at pace and build this half a million testing capacity that we have today. We built that almost from scratch.
“So the scale of the operation – building something that’s basically about the same size of Tesco in six months – has been incredible. So we absolutely have had to work with the private sector to have this happen.
“We’ve been doing that as quickly and as effectively as we possibly could in what were very, very challenging circumstances.
“In this pandemic we’ve completely put aside politics, it’s all about what can we do to keep people safe and get the country back on its feet.”
1605512113PM will grip this week’s ‘big decisions’ in his ‘normal way’ – Hancock
Matt Hancock said: “In terms of the big decisions that we’ve got coming up this week – the big expansion of mass testing that we’re announcing this morning, doubling the testing capacity by the early new year.
“Obviously the work on the vaccines – good news the start of the new vaccine trial from Janssen today – and we hope that works because we’ve got 30 million of those on order.
“And then obviously working on the Brexit deal, which Lord Frost has gone to Brussels today to agree with.
“All these things, the Prime Minister will, I have absolutely no doubt, be gripping in his normal way.”
1605511915Will Boris Johnson dial in to this week’s PMQs?
Matt Hancock said that he did not know what would happen for Prime Minister’s Questions during Boris Johnson’s period of self-isolation.
“I don’t know what will happen with PMQs and I know the parliamentary authorities are working on it,” the Health Secretary told Times Radio.
“Actually we’re all getting used to being able to live our lives, in some cases remotely.
“I know that the Prime Minister will still be making announcements, talking publicly, and you can absolutely do that – the power of Zoom.
“The majority of my meetings with him are on Zoom and it’s more convenient for both of us. That’s now a pretty standard and regular part of Government business. And in fact, I find Zoom much more convenient sometimes.
“He’ll still be able to operate perfectly effectively across Zoom. The whole Downing Street is set up for remote working now. “
1605511818Here’s what the PM had to say this morning: