Coronavirus briefing: LBC questions Health Secretary on why UK hasn't closed borders

10 April 2020, 18:43

By Fiona Jones

This is what happened when LBC's Westminster reporter Ben Kentish questioned the Health Secretary on why the UK is allowing inbound air travel.

Many LBC listeners are asking why the UK is continuing to allow people to enter the country from virus hotspots without the people on those planes even being tested, said Ben Kentish.

"Isn't there a real risk that once we do pass the peak all the efforts we've made to reduce the number of cases risk being undermined by people continuing to enter the country unchecked?"

Matt Hancock responded: "We've followed the science for international travel all along and we saw right at the start of this pandemic that the two countries that brought in the most Draconian international travel restrictions, the US and Italy, both of them have now got serious problems.

"The science we've followed on international travel has been borne out by events."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam added: "That would not work as a measure to prevent the ingress of coronavirus into the UK.

"I see where you're coming from...[but] we won't go from a position of widespread community transmission amongst our own people to a position of zero transmission amongst our own people. We will likely go back to low levels of transmission and the virus will continue to be here I suspect for a very long time.

The Deputy CMO assured Ben that if the science changes, the UK's regulation will change
The Deputy CMO assured Ben that if the science changes, the UK's regulation will change. Picture: LBC

Ben also asked what evidence the UK's decision has been based on to not enforce the public wearing of face masks with Germany this week becoming the latest country to say face masks are a key part of their exit strategy.

Matt Hancock replied that the science on the use face masks says they don't have a material impact outside of healthcare settings and, following WHO findings, "face masks should be saved for those in health and care who really need them."

If everyone has them, "it is harder to get hold of face masks for the people where the science says they're needed."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam added: "We have kept this under very careful and repetitive scientific review.

"We do remain convinced that there just isn't the evidence base to support general mass wearing use by the public.

"I want to assure you personally and those who are listening in that we will keep the science evidence under review and we are going to be guided by the science and if the science evidence changes, then we will change."