Coronavirus: Nadine Dorries applauded as she returns to Commons after COVID-19 recovery

24 March 2020, 15:37 | Updated: 24 March 2020, 16:46

A minister who was the first MP to be diagnosed with coronavirus has returned to the Commons.

Health minister Nadine Dorries sat on the green benches a short distance away from Health Secretary Matt Hancock as he answered questions in the Commons on Tuesday.

MPs from both sides of the chamber cheered as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire entered the Commons during Mr Hancock's ministerial statement.

He was updating MPs on the government's effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced sweeping new restrictions in the fight against the virus.

Answering a question from Conservative MP David Davis, Mr Hancock said: "The final point I'd like to make Madame Deputy Speaker is that the minister for mental health and patient safety is sitting next to me and close to me and that's because she has recovered.

"And all the evidence is you can't catch this twice, at least in quick succession, and so that's OK.

"So I welcome her back to her place."

Ms Dorries announced earlier this month that she had contracted the disease and that a member of her staff was ill.

She spent a period self-isolating at home, later revealing that her 84-year-old mother had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Despite the number of confirmed cases and deaths in the UK from coronavirus continuing to rise, the Commons and Lords remain in session.

Parliament has been considering legislation giving the government emergency powers to tackle COVID-19, but proposals for MPs and Lords to go home early for Easter are being considered.

Speaking on Monday, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said there was a need to ensure the emergency coronavirus bill was approved, but he hinted MPs might not be asked to come back next week.

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At the moment, parliament is due to go into recess for Easter on 31 March.

Before then, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has outlined measures to ensure social distancing is adhered to.

Alcohol sales in Commons catering venues have been suspended, while any votes that take place will last between 30 to 40, rather than the usual 15, to enable social distancing for MPs.