Posted: Fri 4th Dec 2020

Betsi Cadwaladr health chief’s ‘expectation’ of a New Year Covid spike

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

North Wales’ top public health official has spoken of her “expectation” that Christmas lockdown easing will bring a New Year spike in Covid-19 infections.

Teresa Owen, executive director of public health at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, made the comment during an exclusive interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

However, Ms Owen, who is also the board’s acting deputy CEO and interim executive director of mental health, said Christmas was part of the “winter light” which we all needed and she didn’t want to “nag people”.

She said “social distancing, self-isolation, wearing a  mask and hand-washing” were the “key things” people could do to keep safe from the virus.

When asked if she fears a spike in infections because of Welsh Government’s Christmas sabbatical from lockdown measures, she said it was more of an “expectation” than “a fear”.

She said: “I do sense there will be increased cases, that’s my expectation. I am planning for that in terms of the Testing, Trace and Protect team but hopefully, if everyone plays their part, at least we can keep it manageable.

“I sense that there will be a spike in numbers but Christmas is different and we need people to live their lives.

“I think the suggestions around Christmas, undoubtedly, will bring more contact with other people.

“But if everyone tries to social distance where they can, open the windows, get some ventilation, I appreciate that’s not going to work for everyone.

“If everyone can do at least little steps, I sense that we can at least try and manage the situation.”

Ms Owen said she appreciated we all needed Christmas and we needed to “see Sion Corn.”

“It’s part of the light in winter isn’t it?” she said. “And we all need some of that this winter for certain.”

Asked if she would be visiting relatives she said “certainly I will be.”

She added: “I will be taking precautions – it’s key. We’re doing that here in the office at work and doing it at home.

“I go shopping but I’m not out there shopping all the time. In fact I’ve changed my shopping habits.

“I will choose carefully and I’m very aware of my most vulnerable neighbours, family, friends and those who are slightly older.

“I will certainly be more careful with them for sure, as I am now. So I don’t see it as a huge change between my life now and Christmas.”

Ms Owen said we all “just need to get through it and to vaccination”, adding: “I don’t want to nag people either because I do think Christmas is important – we need to lift spirits and mental well-being is equally key for us all.”

Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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