Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
Crufts should go ahead despite coronavirus risk, Health Secretary insists
3 March 2020, 09:27
The Health Secretary insisted that Crufts should go ahead next week, despite the fears over spread of coronavirus when 300 dogs and their owners travel to the UK.
The world-famous dog show takes place in Birmingham from 5th to 8th March with 20,000 competitors. That includes a large number from Italy, where the biggest outbreak of the virus has been focussed.
Northern Italy has seen over 2,000 cases and more than 50 deaths so far from coronavirus. Many of the UK's cases have been from British people returning from a skiing trip in Northern Italy.
But despite the risks, Matt Hancock insisted that Crufts should go ahead.
He told Nick Ferrari: "We are not recommending the cancellation of large events now.
"The evidence shows that the scientific impact is currently low. But we don't rule out doing that in the future."
Nick queried whether dogs and their owners from northern Italy should be allowed to come over and Mr Hancock responded: "There have been people who have told throughout this to cancel flights. But the problem is that that doesn't work.
"The only European country who did stop flights from China was Italy and they do have the biggest outbreak."
The Kennel Club released a statement adding: "There will be enhanced measures to help protect our visitors, exhibitors, clients and staff at Crufts.
"Everyone should note that the main message from Public Health England is on personal hygiene, therefore staff, exhibitors and visitors are also being encouraged to maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene by employing the ‘Catch It. Bin It. Kill It’ ethos.
"Additional signage and bottles of hand sanitiser will be introduced in toilets and the in-hall catering areas, to make it easier for everyone to clean their hands. In addition Crufts will be supplying a hand sanitiser station at each public and dog exhibitor entrance."