March 11, 2020 / 10:14 AM / 20 days ago

No plans to shut UK parliament despite positive coronavirus test

LONDON, March 11 (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.”

Lawmakers have expressed concern that the ageing parliamentary estate is ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak of the virus, and that lawmakers 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.

Britain’s finance minister is due to deliver a budget statement later on Wednesday, one of the biggest days in the parliamentary calendar. (Reporting by William James, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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