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Coronavirus: Health minister Nadine Dorries tests positive

Health minister and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Ms Dorries said she has been self-isolating at home, – Labour MP Rachael Maskell said she has since been told to do the same as she had met Ms Dorries.

The Department of Health said Ms Dorries first showed symptoms on Thursday – the same day she attended an event hosted by the prime minister.

Six people with the virus have died in the UK, which has a total of 382 cases.

The latest person to die was a man in his early 80s who had underlying health conditions.

Meanwhile, a 53-year-old British woman has become the first person with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, to die in Indonesia, according to local media reports.

It is not clear whether the woman – who was reportedly critically ill with multiple health conditions – died due to the virus.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it is “supporting the family of a British woman who has died in Indonesia and are in contact with local authorities”.

In other developments:

  • The Bank of England has announced an emergency cut in interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak
  • NHS England is scaling up its capacity for testing people for the infection. Public Health England, which has already carried out more than 25,000 coronavirus tests across the UK, is set to expand the number of people it can test a day to 10,000 – currently 1,500 are being carried out.
  • Confirmation of any positive test results will also be accelerated with most people getting a result back within 24 hours.

The government will unveil its first Budget later, amid growing fears about the impact the outbreak will have on the UK economy.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged the NHS will get “whatever resources it needs” during the crisis, while he is also expected to unveil measures to boost the self-employed and small businesses who are left out of pocket.

 

One of the unions which represents staff in the UK’s Parliament is demanding urgent clarification on how the authorities will keep workers safe after MP, Nadine Dorries, and one of her members of staff tested positive.

Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, said:

“As the union for House staff we are seeking urgent clarification from the Leader of the House what action he is taking to protect workers following news that a minister and a member of her team have contracted Corona virus.

“While we understand the reluctance to shut the House at this stage, we think measures short of a full closure may be appropriate at this time. In particular we ask that the option of closing the Houses of Parliament to visitors be considered.

“Dedicated House staff will do all they can to ensure the machinery of democracy continues to function but they need to hear that reasonable steps are being taken to protect their well-being.”

Dorries staffer tests positive

A member of Nadine Dorries’ staff has tested positive for coronavirus, a party source has confirmed.

Amid growing anxiety in Parliament over the spread of the disease, sources said the staff member was tested after the MP discovered she had the disease.

Dorries, who began feeling ill on Friday, wrote to fellow MPs saying that one of her staff has contracted the illness and she is now in self-isolation for the next fortnight.

Dorries’ symptoms began on 6 March – the 14-day incubation period means she could have been first exposed to coronavirus on 21 February. She met hundreds of people at meetings in Westminster and in her constituency before she felt poorly.

Her parliamentary office in the Norman Shaw North building close to Whitehall and her ministerial office in the Palace of Westminster are both sealed off – as are some corridors leading to them – after the MP and a member of staff fell ill with the virus that has killed six so far in Britain and 4,300 globally.

Last Friday, Nadine Dorries visited a private members’ club in the Bedfordshire town of Flitwick. The club is being cleaned and the room where she held a meeting was sealed off.

Steve Scott, the president of the Flitwick Club, said Dorries spent about an hour and a half at the club.

Scott said the club took advice from NHS 111 after hearing about Dorries’ condition on Thursday. It is cleaning all surfaces and keeping the room where he said Dorries met about 10 people closed off.

Scott said the club had looked at CCTV footage of Dorries’ time at the club to work out where it needed to focus its clean-up. He added: “It’s a worry but she didn’t shake anyone’s hand as far as we could see. It’s all a bit bizarre really.”

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