The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is understandably concerning and, as the situation develops, it is becoming apparent that ‘life as we know it’ may not be able to carry on for a period of time.
The Government has led from the front with the focus being on managing the spread of coronavirus to keep us all safe and its approach – which is one I share – is to take the long-term view. Countries taking drastic steps may well slow transmission but that is not sustainable as, at some point the measures will have to be lifted, and the likelihood is that at that point, the number of cases will rise.
The UK strategy is to try to control transmission as this will ensure the NHS is in the best position to cope with the increased demand on their services.
The Government has also taken steps to ensure the NHS has the support it needs with the Budget announcement of £30 billion of extra spending which includes £12bn specifically targeted at coronavirus measures and including at least £5 billion for the NHS in England as well as £7 billion for business and workers across the UK.
The situation changes constantly but, as we have moved into the ‘delay’ phase, the advice is to:
- Wash hands frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue;
- Anyone with coronavirus symptoms, such as a continuous cough or high temperature, should stay at home for seven days;
- Use health services wisely;
- Stay up to date using trusted sources of information.
Here in West Cornwall, the co-ordinated effort of all public bodies including our schools is impressive and I was also encouraged to hear what measures West Cornwall Hospital has in place to care for people appropriately when I attended a meeting at the hospital last week.
For those with underlying medical issues, the advice is to take sensible steps to reduce the risk of picking up infections, and call your doctor if you're feeling unwell. If you begin to show symptoms, immediately contact your GP or NHS 111 for advice.
Many people will be feeling anxious and stressed at this time and the mental health charity MIND has some helpful advice – visit www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
I would also encourage people to refer to Government websites including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for those who expect to travel overseas.
I will continue to raise specific concerns with Ministers as they are raised with me especially in relation to our businesses that are already experiencing a negative impact on cashflow.