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MPs vow ‘public duty continues’ amid fears of parliament spread

PUBLISHED: 07:03 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:46 05 March 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire

Norfolk MPs say they are doing what they can to ensure their constituents’ safety following questions over how parliament can reduce its risk of spreading coronavirus.

North Norfolk's MP Duncan Baker. Picture: Stuart AndersonNorth Norfolk's MP Duncan Baker. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Speaking at prime minister's questions on Wednesday, the SNP's Carol Monaghan said MPs risked becoming those who spread the virus due to their frequent travel and meetings with people from around the UK and beyond.

The country has seen its biggest day-on-day increase in coronavirus cases, with 85 people now confirmed to have the virus.

The MP suggested electronic voting and conference calls as ways parliament could continue and asked what the prime minister planned to do to reduce the risk.

Ms Monaghan told the Commons: "Every week, 650 of us come here from every part of the UK, spend several days operating in close proximity and meeting people from all over the world. We then return to our constituencies, potentially becoming the very vectors that we're trying to shut down. Parliament must stay open."

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North. Picture: Neil DidsburyChloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Prime minister Boris Johnson replied that further details would emerge in the coming days.

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Norfolk MPs Duncan Baker, Chloe Smith and Clive Lewis all said they continued to promote the current medical guidance.

Mr Baker, MP for North Norfolk, said: "There is concern, however our public duty continues. We want to make sure we are keeping our constituents safe.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: ANTONY KELLYNorwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

"We will continue to do our role until government gives us the next step."

Miss Smith, in Norwich North, said meeting people was a "fulfilling" part of the job and said it was important to share guidance to ensure people stay as healthy as possible."

Labour's Clive Lewis, Norwich South's MP, added: "I'm prepared to self isolate if I get symptoms, and back calls by TUC for every worker - including the lowest paid and self employed - to continue to receive their normal pay if they need to self isolate too."

At the same meeting, Mr Johnson announced workers 
told to self isolate due to coronavirus will receive sick pay from day one.

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