Parliamentary Question - Wuhun coronavirus update

On the point about mortality, leaked reports are coming out of China that the number of those who are dying is considerably higher than we first anticipated. Is that true? Is that what my right hon. Friend is hearing? Will he also tell the House, and thereby the country, who is most vulnerable? Who is most likely to be seriously affected by this terrible disease?

Matt Hancock (Health Secretary)

It is difficult in a country dealing with a very large-scale outbreak, as China is, for the information to be completely accurate. However, a report published in the last 48 hours of a study of 1,099 cases from China has demonstrated that in those cases, the number of children who have been affected and symptomatic is very small. That gives us hope—and some evidence—that the impact is largely on the elderly and frail, less so on people of working age and much less so on children, which is a very good thing for children themselves and for everyone else, because with the flu, if children are spreaders, they tend to spread fast. That is the latest scientific advice coming out of China, although given the nature of the challenges the Chinese health system is facing, it is difficult to get an entirely clear picture.