GP and outpatient appointments will now be held “digitally” where possible “with immediate effect” as the coronavirus spreads across the UK.
The health secretary Matt Hancock has announced a current "digital-first" rollout will be extended across the country wherever “clinically and practically possible”.
This will mean appointments being carried out via video link, phone calls and other digital means.
Mr Hancock told MPs: “We’re taking steps of course to improve access by making sure people can access primary care in the best possible way.
“And I can be clear to the House today that we will take a digital-first approach to accessing primary care and outpatient appointments.
"So that wherever clinically and practically possible, people can access and should access primary care through phones and digital means.
“This is especially important in the current coronavirus outbreak.
"Already there is a rollout that’s started, but we will make this across the country with immediate effect.”
Further details as to which GP surgeries have the equipment in place, and whether there will be any extra equipment or funding provided, were not immediately clear.
The health secretary also confirmed today the government is looking at using CT scans to diagnose the coronavirus.
One MP said the scans could produce a diagnosis in as little as 10 minutes.
Asked if the government was considering using them Mr Hancock said: “Yes, we’re looking at all possible methods of diagnosis.”
The Health Secretary's appearance in the House of Commons today came as ministers prepared to unveil support for small businesses hit by the outbreak in tomorrow's Budget.
Mr Hancock has already extended Statutory Sick Pay so it is available to people from the first day they fall ill or go into self-isolation – not the fourth.
The number of deaths by coronavirus is currently five, with 319 cases recorded in the country as of this morning.
Italy is currently the worst hit country in Europe by the virus with nearly 600 deaths and 10,000 cases.
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