How local is local on R rate asks MP

Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP, Steve Brine, raised the issue of local outbreaks in the House today.

He was responding to Statement on the Covid-19 pandemic by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Steve asked; "The work that PHE has done with Cambridge to understand the R rate at a regional level is very welcome. It might yet, of course, prove invaluable if needed. Can my right hon. Friend ​say how local is realistically possible? I think that I am right in saying that we could not hone in on Winchester, as an example, if we needed to stamp on an outbreak. Would other factors come into play, such as how effective an area was on the test and trace programme, for instance?"

Mr Hancock said; "Yes, absolutely. As I tried to say in my opening statement, R is one of many measures that we need to look at. The number of new infections—the level of new infections as opposed to the rate of change—is also important and more directly measurable both through test results and through the surveys that we discussed earlier. Of course, the surveys, the number of test results in particular and the number of people presenting for testing, which we get from the test and trace programme, are much more granular local data that can give us a view of local outbreaks. If there is evidence of a local outbreak, then symptomatic testing can be done in that community in order to find out how serious the problem is locally, so a whole suite of tools are at our disposal."

As an experienced MP, Steve works closely with Hampshire's Director of Public Health, Simon Bryant. His team would be vital if a localised outbreak of Covid-19 were to hit Winchester.

Pictured; Steve speaking in the House today.

More information ...

Read the exchange - and the entire short debate - via Hansard