The Leader Times Series March 20th 2020

The past week has been unprecedented, as resources have been mobilised to tackle the global corona virus crisis. 

Our own government and governments across the world have of course been dealing with this for weeks. Towards the end of January, in my previous Ministerial role being responsible for Consular Affairs within the Foreign Office, I had been closely involved with arranging the evacuation flights helping British nationals leave Wuhan, where the first cases were detected. Now in my role as Minister of State at Transport, I am working to ensure essential workers can still get to work, food and medicine is transported safely across the UK among other issues. All whilst trying to respond to the hundreds of messages from Pendle residents, with ideas, suggestions and concerns.

Over the last few days we have seen some amazing things, from the huge number of Pendle residents e-mail me to volunteer to help neighbours, local Mosques and Churches setting up initiatives to feed those self-isolating and Pendle businesses stepping up to produce vital equipment for our NHS. But sadly, we have also already seen a large number of job losses and how the selfish actions of some, like panic buying in our supermarkets, can cause real problems for the most vulnerable. 

The situation is changing daily, but ultimately to beat this crisis we will need a combination of better science, technology, medicine, data, government operations, economic support and social support.

As time goes on, we will learn more and more about the disease and the effects of our actions. And while we need national unity, we also need international co-operation. And although we need to impose physical distance between ourselves, we must at the same time have closer social support for each other.

The government has been following the best Scientific advice available and having been in meetings with the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, I can honestly say we are so lucky to have people like him supporting us. The virus can be deadly, but it is also beatable if we all follow the advice and take sensible precautions. The next few weeks and months will be tough, but we have the resolve and the resources to win this fight. And, the government will do whatever it takes.