It has just been confirmed to me by a Department of Health minister that a member of our community has contracted Coronavirus.
At times like this it’s my job to use my position to get as much information as possible, to share that with you all so you know all you need to keep healthy, and to speak to the people responsible for running our public services to ensure they are on top of what needs doing, have the resources needed, and are working closely and effectively with other organisations.
There’s a lot of rumours going around so let me update you on the facts. A man living locally has been confirmed as having contracted Coronavirus. This was contracted outside of the UK, in Asia, not locally. The second he observed symptoms our NHS leapt into action and he has been moved to a specialised isolation unit near London which is designed for situations like this. His family have not exhibited signs and are not suspected of having contracted the virus but because of their shock at developments and eagerness to be especially cautious they are spending some time together in a more secluded place. This is an act of kindness to reassure us all and I, for one, am very grateful to them for their thoughtfulness.
Today I have been in touch with the bosses of our local health service, the leader of our council, and ministers in the Department of Health. All of them are very well informed, very well prepared, and working openheartedly to make sure the spread of Coronavirus is minimised.
The places visited by the family and people who they’ve been in touch with since this happened are all being proactively contacted by authorities and if people are concerned they’re getting the care, tests, and support they need. I’ve already seen quite a bit of rumour and conjecture on social media, a lot of it is way off base, so please don’t worry unnecessarily and please don’t believe everything you read on social media (except from me obviously!!).
So, here’s what you need to know. Coronavirus is not as easily transmitted as things like flu so there’s a really easy way to eliminate almost all risk of either spreading it or contracting it – when you sneeze, use a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue then sneeze into your arm or elbow. And then wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you can.
We’re really lucky to have our NHS. One nationwide organisation that can respond to challenges like this in a joined up and scaled-up way. Few countries have the protection we have. We all need to do our bit too, but all around us is an organisation hard at work and I’m doing my bit on your behalf to make sure it’s operating in all of our best interests.
There’s one final thing I’ve done today. I’ve asked those who are in touch with the family to let them know they are in my thoughts, that I’m here as their MP so support them in any way I can, but also to pass on the very best wishes of our whole community.
I’ve now met many people who have found themselves suddenly at the centre of a national event and it can be terrifying for them. We as a community must always be sensitive to that and we owe it to them not to listen to people who spread rumours as it can make them feel hurt and unwelcome. What I want right now is for the family to be reunited with their dad once he’s fully recovered and for them to jump back into life here in our community. I really do wish them well in this difficult time.
I’ll keep you updated if there’s anything you need to know.