Matt Hancock unveils plan to tackle coronavirus second wave in UK

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government will do “everything in our power” to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 in the UK.

In a Commons statement, he said: “I said in July that a second wave was rolling across Europe and sadly we’re now seeing an exponential rise in the number of cases in France and Spain.

“And the number of hospitalisations is sadly rising there too.

“We must do everything in our power to protect against a second wave here in the UK.”

Mr Hancock said a new advertising campaign is set to be launched to remind people what they can to limit the spread of Covid-19.

He told MPs: “The first line of defence is and always has been social distancing and personal hygiene.

“We will shortly be launching a new campaign reminding people of how they can help to stop the spread of coronavirus. Hands, face, space and get a test if you have symptoms.

“Everyone has a part to play in following the social distancing rules and doing the basics. After all, this is a virus that thrives on social contact.

“I’d like to thank the British public for everything they’ve done so far, but we must continue.”

Mr Hancock spoke about targeted local intervention.

He said: “Over the summer we’ve worked hard to integrate our national system with the local response and the local action that we’re taking is working.”

He added: “Our goal is that local action should be as targeted as possible and this combination of social distancing, test and trace and local action, this is a system in which we all have a responsibility to act and this gives us the tools to control the virus while protecting education, the economy and the things we hold dear.”

Mr Hancock said a new rapid Covid-19 test that also picks up winter illnesses can be administered by non-healthcare professionals.

He told the Commons about the new “rapid test for coronavirus and other winter viruses that’ll help provide on-the-spot results in under 90 minutes helping us to break chains of transmission quickly”.

He added: “These tests do not require a trained health professional to operate them, so they can be rolled out in more non-clinical settings.”

The Health Secretary also outlined details of the “pay to isolate” scheme.

He said: “Today we also launch our new system of pay to isolate. We want to support people on low incomes in areas with a high incidence of Covid-19 who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home.

“Under the scheme, people who test positive for the virus will receive £130 for the 10-day period they have to stay at home. Other contacts including, for instance, members of their own household who have to self-isolate for 14-days will be entitled to a payment of £182.”

Mr Hancock said work on a vaccine “continues to progress”.

He said: “The best-case scenario remains a vaccine this year. While no vaccine technology is certain, since the House last met vaccine trials have gone well.

“The Oxford vaccine continues to be the world leader and we’ve now contracted with six different vaccine providers, so that whichever comes off we can get access in this country. While we give vaccine development all our support, we will insist on safety and efficacy.”

He spoke about proposed changes to legislation in the coming weeks, adding: “To ensure that a vaccine approved by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) can be deployed here whether or not it has a European licence because the MHRA standards are equal to the highest in the world.”

He added: “On the development of the vaccine which proceeds at pace, I will shortly ask the House to approve a broader range of qualified clinical personnel who can deploy the vaccine in order of clinical priority.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock added: “In preparation for this winter, we’re expanding A&E capacity, we’ve allocated billions more funding to the NHS, we’ve retained the Nightingale hospitals to ensure the NHS is fully prepared and we published last month updated guidance on the protection of social care.

“As well as this, last month’s figures showed a record number of nurses in the NHS, over 13,000 more than last year and record numbers both of doctors and nurses going into training.

“We’re doing all we can to prevent a second peak, to prepare the NHS for winter and to restore as much of life and the things we love as possible. As schools go back, we must all remain vigilant and throughout this crisis we all have a role to play.

“This is a war against an invisible enemy in which we are all on the same side and as we learn more and more about this unprecedented virus, so we constantly seek to improve our response, to protect the health of the nation and the things we hold dear.”

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