Matt Hancock self-isolating after being pinged by NHS Covid app

Harriet Brewis
·3-min read

Watch: COVID-19 - Health Secretary Matt Hancock self-isolating after being 'pinged' by NHS app

Matt Hancock has said he is self-isolating after being contacted by the NHS Covid-19 app.

The Health Secretary said he will be "staying at home and not leaving at all until Sunday" after being “pinged” by the coronavirus Test and Trace system.

In a video message shared on Twitter, Mr Hancock instressed that self-isolation is “perhaps the most important part of all the social distancing.”

He added: “I know from the app that I’ve been in close contact with somebody who’s tested positive and this is how we break the chains of transmission."

He did not give any details on the identity of who this “close contact" was.

The minister continued in his public address: “You must follow these rues, like I’m going to.

"I’ve got to work at home for the next six days and, together, by doing this, by following this, and all the other panoply of rules that we’ve had to put in place, we can get through this and beat this virus.”

His rallying cry came as experts aired concerns that Britons would begin taking a more relaxed approach to the rules once more people have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

The latest minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), released last week, called for close monitoring of the situation with a system of “rapid alerts” if adherence to the restrictions begins to dip.

“There is a risk that changes in behaviour could offset the benefits of vaccination, particularly in the early months of vaccine rollout,” it said.

On Monday, Mr Hancock issued a direct appeal to the public not to jeopardise progress made in the battle against the virus by breaching lockdown measures.

“Don’t blow it now," he said.

 (Matt Hancock)
(Matt Hancock)

Elsewhere, Professor Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, urged caution among those who have had their jabs.

Asked whether people who have been vaccinated can hug their children, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I would certainly advise not to do that at the moment because, as you probably know, with the vaccines they take several weeks before they are maximally effective.

“It’s really important that people stay on their guard even if they’ve had that first vaccination.”

She also warned against the idea of a so-called “immunity passport” until more is known about transmission of the virus among those who have been innoculated.

“People might think (it is a) passport to freedom and even those who haven’t been vaccinated will see those changing their behaviours and think ‘Well, why should I bother if no-one else is either?’,” she said.

“That’s the real worry we’ve got at the moment.”

However, Professor Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said those who have proven immunity should not be restrained by the same restrictions.

“There’s a serious ethical issue that you’re only entitled to restrict people’s liberty in a liberal society if they represent a threat to other people,” he told the Today programme.

“Carrying a virus is like carrying a loaded gun that can go off accidentally.

“We’re entitled to restrain people and check whether they have a gun, but, if they don’t have a gun, to restrain them, that’s false imprisonment.”

He added that efforts should be made to allow those with “certain immunity” to return to work and normal life.

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