MATT HANCOCK clashed with Sky News host Kay Burley over the Government’s advice to the over-70s during the coronavirus pandemic as Prime Minister Boris Johnson begins plans to lift lockdown restrictions.
Matt Hancock hit out at claims he has changed his mind on the social distancing measures advised to the over-70s after it has been reported anyone healthy in the vulnerable group could be released from lockdown. The Health Secretary explained advice hasn’t changed as he said they are still most at risk from catching coronavirus. Sky News host Kay Burley asked: “Why have you changed your mind on the advice to over-70s about staying at home?”
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hancock said: “We haven’t. We published the advice several weeks ago and that remains the advice.
“The advice for the over-70s we set out in detail on the NHS website when the social distancing rules were brought in and that advice remains exactly the same.
“I know there has been some media debate about this in the last couple of days but the rules haven’t changed and they’re really clearly set out.”
Mr Hancock explained the three groups of people who are most at risk to catching COVID-19; those who are clinically, extremely vulnerable.
Ms Burley interjected: “We’re tight on time, forgive me for interrupting but the Government said clinically vulnerable people are those who are ages 70 or older regardless of medical condition.
“It’s ok to change your mind, I just wondered why you had.”
Mr Hancock continued: “I haven’t and if you’ll forgive me, I’ll continue answering the question because I was just about to come onto that.
“The second group is those who are clinically vulnerable because the nature of this disease including the over-70s, they should pay particular regard to the social distancing rules because of that.
“Then there is the rest of us. There are three groups and we have a different strength of advice for the three groups.”
Mr Hancock is urging the public to download a new contact-tracing app to save lives and protect the health of their loved ones.
Launching the trial of the app, which will take place on the Isle of Wight, Mr Hancock said the technology was a key way of keeping the future spread of Covid-19 under control.
Mr Hancock told Isle of Wight residents: “By downloading the app, you are protecting your own health, you are protecting the health of your loved ones and the health of your community.
“I know that the people of the Isle of Wight will embrace this with enthusiasm because by embarking on this project and by embracing test, track and trace, you will be saving lives.”
The new app could be rolled out across the UK within weeks if the trial on the Isle of Wight proves successful.
However, its launch has sparked privacy concerns, with some arguing against a “centralised” approach to managing information and suggesting there is an increased risk from potential hackers.
The app – which asks for the first part of a user’s postcode – allows people to tell the NHS if they have symptoms and book a Covid-19 test.
The app tells them to self-isolate while they have their test and await the results.