Health minister Nadine Dorries’ coronavirus diagnosis has caused chaos in Parliament today as her two offices were sealed off and one of her staff fell ill, MailOnline can reveal.
Ms Dorries, 62, who began feeling ill on Friday, has said one of her office workers has ‘gone down’ with the killer illness and the Tory MP is now in self-isolation for the next fortnight at home in Gloucestershire.
This morning the divorced mother-of-three came to the bay window at the front of the sprawling house in the village of Dumbleton and told MailOnline: ‘I am Nadine Dorries but don’t come too close, I’ve got the coronavirus. I’m self isolating.’
Over the weekend she experienced the ‘classic symptoms’ of the disease – a dry cough, high temperature and ‘vice-like’ pain in her chest – and tested positive yesterday.
Labour’s Rachael Maskell met Ms Dorries, who is Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, today became the first MP to self-isolate for 14 days after she had a meeting with Ms Dorries last Thursday.
Ms Dorries’ symptoms began on March 6, however, the 14-day incubation period means she could have been first exposed to coronavirus on February 21 and met hundreds of people at meetings in Westminster and in her constituency before she felt poorly.
Today her parliamentary office in the Norman Shaw North building close to Whitehall and her ministerial office in the Palace of Westminster are both sealed off – as are some corridors leading to them – after the MP and a member of staff fell ill with the virus that has killed six so far in Britain and 4,300 globally.
There is now a mad scramble in Westminster to trace her movements and find who she met or came close to since late February – but Ms Dorries has admitted she is struggling to remember herself. She is a regular in the Commons tea room, library and is a known user of the Portcullis House canteen used by all staff based at Parliament.
The Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire sent a message to the Tory MP WhatsApp group this morning asking them to come forward if they were near her in Parliament because it is ‘hard to remember everyone’. She told colleagues: ‘My staff member has gone down with it too. I haven’t yet given a list to the contact tracers. If you sat next to me in the tea room or library etc please let me know’.
Senior Government ministers could be tested for coronavirus and she was with the Prime Minister at a Downing Street reception to mark International Women’s Day last Thursday, which was also attended by Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman today said he will not be tested because he is not exhibiting symptoms and did not come into close contact with her that night. But it is not known fellow Department of Health ministers, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, will be tested. As a junior minister she does not attend cabinet or Cobra meetings.
Ms Dorries appeared at the despatch box in the Commons last Wednesday but while the Commons is cleaned every day it has not had a deep clean ahead of today’s budget. The chamber was quite full for Rishi Sunak’s speech – but there were a few gaps on one of the biggest days in the British political calendar.
Today it emerged that Parliament could could sit with skeleton staff and just 100 MPs in the Commons to avoid spreading coronavirus if the crisis gets worse – but a UK parliament spokesman said this morning ‘there are no plans to suspend Parliament’. Westminster staff were busy installing 300-plus hand sanitizer dispensers this afternoon.
This is Nadine Dorries’ office in Westminster today in a photo taken by the Guido Fawkes blog as it emerged the Health minister has tested positive for coronavirus and one of her staff has also ‘gone down’ with it
MailOnline has pieced together Ms Dorries’ movements in the 14 days period before she fell ill – and the events that have followed her diagnosis yesterday, which saw her office sealed and a member of her staff also ill
Boris Johnson speaks at an International Women’s Day event in No 10 last Thursday, which was attended by Ms Dorries. The PM says he did not go near her that day. The event was attended by his partner Carrie, minister Liz Truss (in red next to the podium) and Olympian Kelly Holmes (pictured in a black suit two places to Ms Truss’ left)
March 4: Nadine was last on the floor of the Commons last Wednesday and is likely to have been carrying coronavirus then and didn’t know it
Ms Dorries (circled) was surrounded by MPs a week ago today – but while MailOnline understands the Commons is cleaned daily it has not had a so-called deep clean
There are growing calls for the PM to be tested after he was with Ms Dorries (pictured together last year) in No 10 for an International Women’s Day event also attended by Carrie Symonds
Ms Dorries has messaged Tory MPs (her WhatsApp is pictured) urging them to come forward if they believe they bumped into her or sat near her at Parliament
Labour’s Rachael Maskell revealed she has called 111 and was advised to self-isolate after a meeting with Ms Dorries, whose title is Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health
Who has Nadine Dorries had contact with while carrying coronavirus and before she fell ill?
Nadine Dorries, a health minister responsible for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, is likely to have been in contact with hundreds of people in the up to two weeks she may have been carrying the illness before she began showing symptoms.
This is what we know about her movements:
Tuesday February 25 – Keeping Safe Conference, Westminster’s Abbey Centre (pictured)
Saturday February 29 – celebrates her mother’s 84th birthday at a party in a restaurant
Wednesday March 4 – Spoke in the House of Commons
Thursday March 5 – Downing Street event to mark International Women’s Day. PM Boris Johnson also attended Earlier in the day she met Labour MP Rachael Maskell, who is now also in self-isolation.
Friday March 6 – Held surgery at the Flitwick Club (right) in her Mid-Bedfordshire constituency where 12 people attended. She had a pub lunch afterwards with Steve Dixon, from the Mid Bedfordshire Conservative Association.
Saturday December 7 and Sunday December 8 – She experienced the ‘classic symptoms’ of the disease – a dry cough, high temperature and ‘vice-like’ pain in her chest.
Tuesday March 10 – Nadine Dorries tests positive for coronavirus
Wednesday March 11 – The MP confirms a member of her staff has also tested positive and pictures of her offices in Parliament, sealed off, emerge
Nadine Dorries started feeling ill on Friday as she was signing a statutory instrument that declared coronavirus to be a ‘notifiable disease’, enabling companies to obtain insurance cover.
A Tory MP told MailOnline today: ‘I was sat in the tea rooms with Nadine on Wednesday. You think, if she puts her hands on the table and then I put my hands on the table.
‘Then she was in Parliament giving a speech at the despatch box. Everyone needs to be tested, Boris needs to be tested. Jo Churchill was next to her in the chamber.’
The backbencher added: ‘Boris cannot help himself. He shakes hands with everyone. He is obviously trying to stop himself now.’
Her positive test result will increase calls for parts of Parliament to shut to be sanitised.
Preparations for the crucial Budget this afternoon appear to be going ahead despite the dramatic developments, with senior Parliamentary sources still adamant that the estate must be kept open.
However, MailOnline understands there are serious discussions about reducing the number of MPs coming to the Commons.
It won’t happen today – but perhaps 100 MPs could be tasked to oversee essential legislation in the Commons in a bid to reduce the risk of spread.
Former Cabinet minister David Gauke said he would be a ‘little bit nervous’ about being in the chamber for the Budget statement if he was still an MP, as it was ‘packed’.
‘It is an environment where I fear the worst in terms of passing on the Covid-19,’ he told Sky News.
Labour MP Rachael Maskell has been advised to self-isolate after meeting Nadine Dorries – who has tested positive for coronavirus – last week.
Ms Maskell tweeted: ‘NHS111 have advised that I self-isolate as a result of a meeting I had with the Government’s Mental Health Minister last Thursday who has subsequently tested positive for Coronovirus.
‘Thankfully I am asymptomatic. It is so important that we all follow all public health advice.’
Ms Maskell said that only her, Ms Dorries and members of the minister’s staff were present at the meeting on Thursday.
Boris Johnson will NOT be checked for coronavirus despite being at same No10 event as infected Nadine Dorrie
Boris Johnson is not being tested for coronavirus despite being at a reception with infected health minister Nadine Dorries, it emerged today.
Downing Street said the PM did not need to be checked as he was showing ‘no symptoms’ and had not been within two metres of the quarantined MP.
Despite MPs saying he should be tested, sources also insisted there was less risk because Mr Johnson regularly washed his hands.
Ms Dorries has revealed she has put herself into isolation, just days after attending a reception at No10 with the PM.
The Tory MP gave a speech in the Commons on Wednesday night, was in the tea rooms with other politicians, and held a surgery on Saturday for 50 of her constituents. She is believed to have started feeling ill on Thursday, before deteriorating the following day.
The 62-year-old had the virus and she is now said to be recovering – although she voiced fears for her 84-year-old mother, who is living at her home and ‘began coughing’ yesterday.
Mr Johnson attended a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey with the Queen on Monday.
The York Central MP said being told to self-isolate was ‘frustrating’ but stressed the importance of following medical advice.
‘I’m absolutely fine, obviously it’s frustrating because there are things I want to get on with.
‘I’m just planning on making more phone calls, more working online. I’m not going to be bored, put it that way.’
The Under-Secretary of State for Health, holds the portfolio for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health.
On Friday, the day she first felt ill, Nadine Dorries spent around two and a half hours holding a surgery at her constituency at Flitwick hall, near Milton Keynes, MailOnline can reveal.
She saw 12 members of the public and dealt with 6 different cases.
Steve Dixon, from the Mid Bedfordshire Conservative Association, said he then had lunch with her – just the two of them – at a rural pub nearby before she headed home to Worcestershire.
Mr Dixon said it wasn’t until she got home that she started feeling ill.
Having spent several hours with Ms Dorries while she was carrying the virus he has now chosen to self-isolate on discovering she has covid 19.
The constituency surgery was held last Friday at a rented room at the Flitwick Club in Flitwick. There were about 12 people there and Nadine must have helped with about five or six cases over 2.5 hours.
‘Afterwards I joined her for lunch at a pub a neighbouring village.
Parliament ‘could sit with skeleton staff and just 100 MPs’ to avoid spreading coronavirus
Parliamentary authorities are considering sitting with just 100 MPs and a skeleton staff in a bid to avert coronavirus spread, MailOnline understands.
Senior sources insisted the Commons would not be closing despite health minister Nadine Dorries testing positive.
‘We need to keep the House open,’ one said.
There are fears the signal that would be sent to the country would fuel panic and lead to economic chaos.
However, other measures such as shutting Parliament to visitors and continuing with a skeleton staff are being examined for future sittings.
One idea said to be ‘gaining traction’ is that the parties could agree to have just 100 MPs working in the Commons – sending the other 550 home to work.
‘As a result I’ve decided to self isolate since this morning. I’ve contacted NHS England and they are going to call me back to advise on what to do next.
‘I don’t know how much of a risk there is that I’ve been infected too but I’m remaining at home for the foreseeable.
‘I’ve contacted the chairman of the Flitwick club and he said that they are in the process of deep cleaning the room the surgery was held in.’
Tests confirmed last night that the 62-year-old had the virus and she is now in isolation and said to be recovering.
But the MP has now voiced fears for her 84-year-old mother, who is living at her home and ‘began coughing’ yesterday.
As a former nurse, Mrs Dorries has played a key role in drawing up plans to tackle the virus.
She met hundreds of people last week, including a large number of MPs, and attended a conference outside Westminster.
On Thursday she attended a Downing Street event hosted by Mr Johnson to mark International Women’s Day.
Nadine Dorries was with Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel at Downing Street on January 8, before she contracted the illness
The MP is pictured here with her 84-year-old mother, in 2018, who she admitted she was worried about after she came down with a cough
NHS could test 10,000 people a DAY
So far more than 26,000 tests have been conducted by public health officials in England, with 324 testing positive so far. The UK-wide total is 382 but more cases are expected later today
The NHS is preparing to carry out 10,000 coronavirus tests a day in anticipation of a massive increase in demand.
The health service is currently performing 1,500 tests daily but this number will be increased by almost seven-fold.
Officials are rolling out a more sensitive method that produces results within 24 hours – the current turnaround is around 48 hours. The tests will also be carried out by NHS hospitals instead of one of 12 labs in the UK.
The NHS will also routinely test patients in hospital including those undergoing surgery.
The development comes as a top doctor warned yesterday that the NHS does not have enough intensive care beds to cope with a coronavirus epidemic.
Dr Ron Daniels, from University Hospitals Birmingham, said an extra 136,000 patients would need intensive care over the coming weeks.
The NHS currently has about 4,050 intensive care beds although Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised to provide an additional 5,000 beds in time for the outbreak.
But Dr Daniels said that number would still be a long way off, stressing: ‘We cannot escalate our capacity readily enough.’
Steve Scott president of the Flitwick Club said: ‘Nadine turned up at 10:45 and left about 1215. I think I saw about nine people who were present at the constituency surgery.
‘Ironically I think this is the first time I have seen her here at the club. And the Conservatives haven’t used it for a number of years.
‘We have since deep cleaned the room the surgery was held in and closed it off to the public. I myself was in the function room on the other side of the building at the time the surgery was held so I don’t really feel as though I need to self isolate at the moment.’
Joe Irwin, a part-time administrator of the Mid-Bedfordshire Conservative Association, had coffee with Mr Dixon on Friday and is now self-isolating as well, as a precaution.
The local association is writing to everyone who met Ms Dorries on Friday to tell them the MP was carrying the virus.
Speaking from his home in Barton-le-Clay, Bedfordshire, today. Mr Irwin said: ‘We are taking it cautiously. We are following government advice and I am doing what I can [at home]. I am going to speak to the association chairman today.”
Asked what advice the party was giving to the constituents who met Ms Dorries on Saturday, Mr Irwin, who was dressed in a T-shirt and jogging bottoms, said: ‘We are dealing with that. We will be writing to those people.’
Mr Irwin said his father Alan, his grandfather – also called Joe – and his grandmother are all self-isolating.
He lives with his father, who took Joe Irwin senior for an unrelated hospital appointment on Tuesday.
Joe senior, who lives around the corner, said: ‘My grandson had a meeting with her right-hand man. We hope we have not got it, but we are self-isolating.’
One neighbour of Ms Dorries said: ‘That’s awful news. I really hope she gets better soon’. Another 72-year-old villager said: ‘I have only seen Nadine Dorries once before and that was at church. I’ve not met her and now really doesn’t seem to be the time. Good god, I wouldn’t want to see her in church on Sunday.
‘It is such an unknown quantity and I think that is what worries people. We don’t know how to deal with it.
‘I hope she carries on self isolating and gets better. She should certainly be staying in her house.
‘It is bad news. Obviously the markets have gone down but gold has gone up so I am going to get my broker to buy a bit of that.’
Peter Davis, 58, who was on a walk through Dumbleton and the surrounding villages, added: ‘I’ll give her house a wide berth. My only worry would be for her mother’.
GPs should now treat ANY flu-like illness requiring hospitalisation as a possible coronavirus case regardless of travel history
GPs have been told to perform coronavirus tests on any patient with flu-like symptoms if they need to be admitted to hospital, regardless of travel history.
Public Health England has updated its guidance to say family doctors should disregard whether people have links abroad and treat them as a potential case.
It comes as the killer virus is increasingly spreading among Britons who have not left the country and one patient has died after catching it in Wolverhampton.
GPs are being urged to immediately isolate the patient without touching them, put on protective gear and report it to PHE and NHS 111.
NHS England has told all GP surgeries to keep one room free to quarantine suspected coronavirus patients.
The policy shift is at odds with the NHS 111 service, which is still wrongly telling people they cannot have the killer virus unless they’ve travelled abroad.
Her shock diagnosis came as:
- The deputy chief medical officer warned the start of the peak of the epidemic could be within a fortnight;
- Heath officials announced 61 more patients in Britain have caught the killer infection, taking the total number of cases to 382 and fatalities to six
- Italy’s death toll rose by 168 to 631 and its 60million citizens went into lockdown;
- Thousands of Britons were effectively stranded in Italy after BA cancelled all flights and other airlines followed suit;
- A row erupted over the screening of passengers arriving on the few remaining flights from Italy as some countries closed their borders to Italian arrivals;
- Tonight’s Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal was postponed after the owner of Olympiacos – whose side played at Arsenal on February 27 – got the virus;
- A big increase in online outpatient appointments for the elderly is being planned to save on trips to hospital;
- The NHS is scaling up virus testing capacity to 10,000 a day;
- Harvard said it would begin moving to online classes, with British universities under pressure to follow suit;
- A top surgeon was struck down after returning from a skiing trip to Italy – but had treated patients in the meantime.
Mrs Dorries, who is a mother of three, said: ‘I can confirm I have tested positive for coronavirus. As soon as I was informed I took all the advised precautions and have been self-isolating at home.
‘Public Health England has started detailed contact tracing and the department and my parliamentary office are closely following their advice.
‘I would like to thank PHE and the wonderful NHS staff who have provided me with advice and support.’
She added on social media: ‘It’s been pretty rubbish but I hope I’m over the worst of it now. More worried about my 84-year-old mum who is staying with me and began with the cough today. She is being tested tomorrow. Keep safe and keep washing those hands, everyone.’
Health minister Nadine Dorries fell ill on Friday and was diagnosed with coronavirus on Tuesday evening
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Nadine Dorries bricklaying in Bedford last November
Dorries shared this picture of her mother on her 84th birthday at the end of February
In a tweet Nadine Dorries said she was ‘over the worst of it’ following her coronavirus diagnosis
Matt Hancock wished his colleague Mrs Dorries well as she battles to recover from the virus
WHAT HAPPENS TO PARLIAMENT FOLLOWING NADINE DORRIES’ DIAGNOSIS?
– What happens now to Parliament?
Following Ms Dorries’ diagnosis, a Parliament spokesman said there were still ‘no plans to suspend Parliament’, following guidance from Public Health England.
What extra measures are being taken?
A Parliament spokesman said the extra measures implemented by the Palace of Westminster are in line with recommendations for the general public and include ‘placing information posters across the parliamentary estate encouraging thorough handwashing’.
Further measures that could be taken range from a total ban on palace visitors to shutting down Parliament for three months.
– Who will be tested?
All health ministers, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, could now be tested for the virus, as well as any other officials who have recently come into contact with Ms Dorries.
Matt Hancock, who as Health Secretary is her boss, was last night understood to be fit and well and not showing any symptoms.
He tweeted last night: ‘Really sorry to hear Nadine has tested positive for coronavirus.
‘She has done the right thing by self isolating at home, and both NHS and PHE staff have been brilliant.
‘We all wish her well as she recovers.
‘I understand why people are worried about this disease.
‘We will do all we can to keep people safe, based on the best possible science.’
Mr Hancock’s sentiments were echoed by the shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, who tweeted: ‘I send my very, very best wishes to @NadineDorries and absolutely endorse (what) @MattHancock is saying.
‘I know this is an extremely worrying time for our constituents.
‘Our NHS & PHE staff are doing us all proud in very challenging circumstances.’
The news will raise fears that Parliament may have to be closed or that restrictions will have to be placed on visitors.
A government source said: ‘As with everything, we are being guided by the science on this.
‘This will be treated like any other standard case.’
MPs lined up to offer their support last night after the news broke.
Mrs Dorries had been part of a team that drew up legislation to tackle coronavirus before she fell ill.
Officials are in the process of identifying all people she has been in contact with since contracting the virus, including MPs.
Any who have displayed similar symptoms will be tested.
Nadine Dorries getting a flu jab last November as part of a campaign to encourage people to remember to get vaccinated
Labour MP Angela Rayner said: ‘Whilst l almost never agree with Nadine Dorries on anything politically, I do wish her a speedy recovery against this wretched coronavirus.’
It was reported last week that plans were being considered to suspend Parliament for five months.
One source said there were potentially ‘650 superspreaders’ in the House of Commons because its MPs divide their time between Westminster and their seats.