MP falls ill in Commons, days after lockdown eased. What if it’s Covid-19?

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The Conservative Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, has fallen ill after contributing to debates in the House of Commons – with symptoms that resemble Covid-19.

His illness occurs just days after MPs were forced to return to the House of Commons rather than participate in online debates, in a plan devised by Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, who claimed that online voting slowed debates unduly. Apparently queuing 2km around the Parliamentary precincts and down the road to vote causes no delay at all.

Nobody can say that Sharma caught his illness – whatever it is – in Parliament. The question now is, how many people will he have infected by attending?

If it is Covid-19, then we won’t see the first infections from contact with Sharma for another fortnight at least.

The reaction on Twitter has been uniformly condemning:

This is a very good point. We have a high-profile case here, that we can use to model the effect in schools if a pupil, parent or teacher turns up with the virus. Of course, if they do, then by the time anybody finds out it will be too late – so all we can do is try to quantify the damage.

There is an upside (there’s always an upside):

What a great opportunity to get the beleaguered “Track and Trace” programme back on track – showing how it works by using MPs as guinea pigs!

It will necessitate Jacob Rees-Mogg falling on his proverbial sword – with a full apology for endangering everybody. Some of us can’t wait for that.

And what about this?

Will Rees-Mogg – and Boris Johnson – revert to locking down MPs?

Will they have the choice, if many are infected?

Or will they insist on keeping it open, endangering not only their colleagues but our democracy?

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