Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, told MPs the public will be able to access primary care through phones and digital means as the Government adopt a “digital-first” approach. He explained the important new access to healthcare is especially important amid the current coronavirus outbreak. In his latest update on the deadly virus, anyone who has travelled from Italy is urged to self-isolate for 14 days.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said: “We’re taking steps to improve access by making sure people can access primary care in the best possible way.
“I can be clear to the house today that we will take a digital-first approach to access primary care and outpatient appointments.
“Wherever clinically and practically possible people can access primary care through phones and digital means.
“This is especially important in the current coronavirus outbreak.
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Matt Hancock told MPs the public will be able to access primary care through phones and digitally
Britons have been urged not to travel to Italy
“Already there is a rise but we will make this across the country with immediate effect.”
Coronavirus has brought travel between the UK and Italy to a stand still as some airlines cancel flights until the beginning of April.
In updated Government advice, Mr Hancock added: “All those returning from Italy must self isolate for 14 days. This is in addition to our advice that anyone who visited the specific areas of northern Italy that were originally locked down in the past two weeks should self isolate for 14 days.
“We will do everything we can to keep people safe based on the very best scientific advice”
Coronavirus has infected more than 300 people in the UK so far
The start of the UK peak of the coronavirus epidemic is expected within the next fortnight, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said.
Dr Jenny Harries defended the Government’s decision to delay closing schools and the introduction of other stringent tactics, saying experts are assessing new cases on an hourly basis to achieve a “balanced response”.
But new measures – including those aimed at protecting the elderly and vulnerable – are expected shortly as cases rise more rapidly across the UK.
Dr Harries said the vast majority of those diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK are “pretty well” but that they may “feel a bit rough for a few days”.
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She added: “We can expect a peak in cases, it has a relatively slow take off at the start, that’s where we are at the moment, it will start to rise quite sharply.”
Asked when the rapid increase of infections might end, she said: “Within 10 to 14 days we will be likely to advise people with symptoms to self-isolate and we are expecting that start of the peak to come within that period.”
Staying at home in self-isolation was “extremely effective in trying to move our epidemic curve forward”, she added.
Dr Harries said cancelling big outdoor events like football matches would not necessarily be a decision supported by science.