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No plans to shut UK parliament despite health minister positive coronavirus test

British MP Nadine Dorries
British MP Nadine Dorries speaking in Parliament on April 3, 2019. Junior health minister tested positive for coronavirus. PHOTO | REUTERS  

Britain’s parliament has no plans to shut over coronavirus, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday, after a minister tested positive for the virus and another lawmaker was advised to stay at home as a precaution.

Junior health minister Nadine Dorries said she had tested positive for coronavirus and was self-isolating. An opposition lawmaker who met Dorries was also advised to isolate herself by health authorities.

“At present there are no plans to suspend parliament,” a parliamentary spokeswoman said in a statement.

“We are closely following guidance from Public Health England in response to the situation and have been reassured that the measures we are taking are proportionate and appropriate.”

The Times reported that Dorries met hundreds of people in Parliament in the past week and attended a reception with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, tweeted that he was “really sorry” to hear of Dorries’ diagnosis.

“She has done the right thing by self-isolating at home,” he said.

Lawmakers have expressed concern that the ageing parliamentary estate is ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak of the virus, and that legislators pose a higher risk because they travel a lot and meet people.

Any decision to close parliament would be taken after consultation between parliamentary authorities, the speakers of both houses of parliament and the government.

Earlier on Tuesday, the death toll in the United Kingdom from the coronavirus outbreak rose to six, British health officials said.

The health ministry also said the number of people who had tested positive for the virus had risen to 373 from 319.

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