Our country faces the biggest public health emergency in a generation, with a virtual lockdown on our usual way of life. The Prime Minister has led the call for decisive action to tackle coronavirus, at home and abroad, of a kind not seen in peacetime. We now have confirmed cases very close to home and very sadly somebody has already died in Dorchester.

West Dorset is particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, with 38% of residents over the age of 60 and many with underlying health issues. We need to work together and follow Government’s advice to tackle this deadly virus: Respecting social distancing; not gathering in groups of more than two people and only travelling to work when it is absolutely necessary. Above all, we must stay at home, support our NHS and save lives.

I was frustrated to learn this week that our local bus operator gave just 48 hours notice of stopping vital bus links on the Bridport Hospital route. I have lobbied the Secretary of State for Transport for urgent help on this and will update you as soon as I know more.

The virus has also brought challenges to local businesses and, in order to redress this, Government has offered unprecedented financial support. I have now urged Ministers, including during my speech in the House, to do more for our 24% self-employed in the constituency, who also deserve better.

Our community is rising to the challenge, and I applaud all those voluntary groups springing up in our rural areas, helping those in isolation. Visit www.chrisloder.co.uk/volunteer if you would also like to offer a helping hand.

These next few months will be like nothing we’ve experienced before. Care for your families, care for your neighbours and, above all, please step up to care for your wider community.