2021-02-03 11:25:14 | UK Covid live: test and trace chief Dido Harding tells MPs no one could predict new variant would emerge | Politics

Story by: Andrew SparrowThe Guardian

Good morning. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, was the No 10 choice for the morning broadcast round this morning and he hinted that the government may yet go further with its plans for hotel quarantine for new arrivals. Last week the UK government said it would make hotel quarantine compulsory for people arriving from high-risk countries, yesterday Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland would apply a “much more comprehensive” scheme, but we have not had full details of either scheme and the new rules are not yet in force in England or Scotland.

In an interview with Sky News, Hancock defended the UK government’s current regime. He said the government was still working on the hotel quarantine plans and that there was already “mandatory isolation” for all people arriving in the UK (although at home, not in hotels). But he did not rule out going further. “We’re always looking to strengthen these things but we already have very stringent measures in place at the border,” he said.

I will post more from his interviews shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Dido Harding, head of NHS test and trace, gives evidence to the Commons science committee.

9.30am: Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, gives evidence to the Commons work and pensions committee about the response to Covid.

9.30am: Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, gives evidence to the Commons transport committee.

9.30am: The ONS publishes antibody data from its Covid infection survey.

12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.

12.15pm: The Welsh government is expected to hold a coronavirus briefing.

12.30pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes questions in the Scottish parliament.

12.30pm: Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, responds to a Commons urgent question about support for students during the pandemic.

1.30pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its lobby briefing.

5pm: Downing Street is expected to hold a press conference.

Also today Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, is holding a virtual meeting with his European commission opposite number, Maroš Šefčovič, about the Northern Ireland protocol. And Arlene Foster, the Northern Ireland first minister, is due to hold a meeting with Boris Johnson on the same topic. My colleague Lisa O’Carroll has a preview here.

Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.

Here is our global coronavirus live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Story continues…

Source References:The Guardian

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