A hotel in Tenerife used by British package firms is on lockdown after an Italian guest tested positive for COVID-19 virus, Spanish health officials have said.
The Canary Islands' president confirmed a man, believed to be a doctor, who had been staying at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in the south of Tenerife, was being kept in isolation following testing positive for the virus.
Spanish news media report nearly 1,000 tourists are staying at the complex. All guests have been told to stay in their rooms in a letter sent to them by hotel managers.
So with Italy in lockdown and China in chaos, is now the time to panic over the coronavirus crisis?
Today Health Secretary Matt Hancock is live in the studio to tell us what the government is doing to keep us safe.
He joins us alongside virologist Dr Simon Clarke, who says we shouldn’t be keeping our children off school, and our travel expert Simon Calder who doesn’t believe we should cancel our weekend getaways in Italy.
Fresh from briefing the Cabinet on the latest developments on the coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock joined us live from Westminster.
When asked if the UK is ready for a sudden impact of the coronavirus, Matt answered: “We’ve been doing all of the planning that is necessary… it is not yet clear whether this is going to end up being a virus that essentially spreads globally, a pandemic globally, or whether we can be successful in containing it, essentially in China and then to a lesser degree in some of the other places where it’s clearly spreading, like Italy. But in the UK we’re doing everything we can to contain the virus now and we’re putting in place the preparations in case it does become essentially a global pandemic.”
On exactly what preparations are in place, Matt shared: “We have plans in place to make sure that the NHS is prepared. For instance, at the moment we’re putting on the front of every A&E a unit so that people can actually be tested without having to go into A&E and risking spreading the virus further.
“We’re making sure there are beds available in case this gets much bigger, especially people with respiratory conditions.”
On the NHS now being supported by additional legal powers, Matt explained: “We’ve already introduced laws to mean that we can hold people in quarantine… If people come into the country and the medical experts have a good reason to believe they would be of risk to the public, then we’ve got the powers to ensure that can be handled.”
Matt continued: “There is every chance we can avoid this becoming that global pandemic. Once it gets to that stage it’s very, very hard to protect Britain, effectively impossible, but we’re not at that stage yet.
“We expect more [cases], more than we have now but relatively small numbers… But we don’t rule out the fact that it may become much bigger than that… And if we expect that to happen as the most likely thing, then we will communicate that.”
Phil and Holly were also joined on the sofa by virologist Dr. Simon Clarke who claimed that wearing a mask was “pretty useless”.
He expanded: “The pores, the fibres in them [the masks], are too big for the virus. These viruses are smaller than the wavelength of light, they will just pass straight through them. They will infect you via your eyes potentially. Unless you’ve got a military-grade respirator, forget it.”
Matt also spoke about a change to the organ donation system, Max and Kiera’s Law, and that from May unless you actively opt out, then your organs can be used to save someone else’s life when you die, because “There are a lot of people who don’t engage at the moment one way or the other, who don’t feel strongly about it.
“This is really important as there are about 5,000 people on the organ donation register waiting at the moment… and so I’m really thrilled we’re bringing this in.”
It’s thought this change will increase the number of organs available for donation by about 700 per year.
Matt admitted: “It doesn’t deal with the whole shortfall, but it will make a big impact on it. I’ve got personal experience with close friends who have been through this…”