#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 11°C Saturday 17 April 2021
Advertisement

Covid-19 stricken UK Health Secretary returns to work after seven days in self-isolation

Matt Hancock announced plans to test 100,000 people per day by the end of the month.

Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock
Image: PA Images

UK HEALTH SECRETARY Matt Hancock has returned to work after recovering from Covid-19.

Hancock, who lead a press briefing today after being in self-isolation for seven days, said he came back “redoubled in my determination to fight this virus with everything I’ve got”.

“And we will strain every sinew to defeat it once and for all.

“And I will stop at nothing to make sure that frontline staff have the right equipment so that they are safe and can have the confidence they need to do their jobs.”

At today’s briefing, the Cabinet minister defended his decision to prioritise testing of patients over NHS staff and said he thought any health secretary would have done the same.

Hancock went on to lay out his “five-pillar” testing strategy, saying that would be the route to moving from 10,000 tests a day in the UK to 100,000.

They are:

  • Swab testing in Public Health England and NHS labs
  • Using commercial partners, including universities and private businesses, to establish more swab testing
  • Introducing antibody blood tests to determine whether people have had Covid-19
  • Surveillance to determine the rate of infection and how it is spreading across the country
  • Build an “at-scale” diagnostics industry to reach 100,000 tests by end of April.

The UK government is currently working with nine potential providers who are battling to produce an antibody test, and is also looking at whether people could be issued with immunity certificates to prove they are able to resume their usual activities.

Asked about his own test for Covid-19 and under which criteria he was tested, Hancock said: “Look I understand people’s yearning to have the test and to find out and there’s a clear protocol that’s been set out by the chief medical officer for who should get tests and the decision was that those who are in senior decision-making positions as well as those who are in the critical jobs on the front line need to get those tests.

“So for instance I think it’s quite right that the Prime Minister was tested and I was tested and we need to roll that out now, to have as many people as possible get those tests,” he said. 

“The top priority of course is the patients for whom the test can be the difference between life and death in terms of the treatment course that’s undertaken,” he added.

Hancock announced he was self-isolating the same day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was also self-isolating after being diagnosed with Covid-19. 

The UK is currently advising anyone with symptoms indicative of coronavirus to self-isolate for seven days, despite the World Health Organisation recommending a 14-day self-isolation period. 

“We will follow the best medical and scientific advice,” Johnson said today when asked if he would end his quarantine tomorrow, after the recommended seven days of isolation.

Latest data shows 2,921 people were confirmed to have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm today. 

The youngest person who died without underlying health conditions was aged 25.

The total is up by 569 from 2,352 the day before and is the biggest day-on-day increase so far, just above the 563 reported the day before.

About the author:

Press Association

Read next:

COMMENTS (48)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel