We are getting daily updates on Coronavirus in Parliament.
At this stage, I believe it pays to be cautious. No one will get a prize for taking risks with their health and the health of others around them. I would ask everyone to follow the chief medical officer’s advice and self-isolate if there is any chance they have been in contact with the virus, or with someone else who may have contracted it.
While we have seen Coronavirus outbreaks before – such as the SARS disease in 2002 – these were geographically limited. SARS led to 8,098 reported cases around the world. Covid-19, which thankfully does not have the same mortality rate, has infected more than 119,000. SARS infected four people in the UK; we reached 319 cases of Covid-19 infection here at the start of this week and that number will rise.
I write this ahead of the budget, but I’m pleased to see the Chancellor’s announcement of a further £1 billion to boost the country’s 4G network.
Those funds will be part of a £5 billion package to ensure we also get gigabit broadband – around 40 times faster than standard superfast broadband – available to every home and business in the country within five years.
This is especially welcome in rural areas and is something I have campaigned on for years; there are still some pockets in Fylde where coverage is not as good as it should be and I have been in contact with Openreach about improving the situation. We are getting there.
We now have record levels of employment and wages rising faster than inflation; I look forward to seeing a Budget with even more investment in our public services, not least the NHS which is already receiving a record level of funding.