Health Minister: Some progress being made from lockdown measures but ‘zero chance’ they will be lifted yet
Ministers will discuss a review of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown measures at an emergency Cobra committee meeting today.
Wales is the first UK nation to announce an extension to the initial three-week lockdown.
First Minister, Mark Drakeford announced during the first ‘digital’ meeting of the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday, “stay-at-home restrictions will not end next week.”
With warm weather forecast over the Easter weekend the Welsh Government and emergency services signed a joint letter urging people to ‘stay at home’ over bank holiday.
The letter states: “Stay at home and help stop the virus spreading.
We know it’s hard and we want to thank you for sticking to the rules.”
It goes onto say, “Most people are doing just this, but it’s really frustrating to see some people flouting the rules and putting other people at risk.”
It ends by saying, “Our actions and decisions over the Easter bank holiday weekend, and in the coming weeks and months, will shape Wales for years to come.”
Today we’ve sent a message to all the people of Wales.
Families across the country have lost loved ones to coronavirus. If we don’t act now, more deaths will follow.
The message this Easter is simple:
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) April 9, 2020
Speaking about the Welsh Government’s announcement on lockdown measures, health minister Vaughan Gething told BBC Breakfast this morning: “We’ve had a range of evidence from our chief scientific adviser on health, and our chief medical officer that some progress is indeed being made as a result of the lockdown measures and social distancing.
That is of course, really important to slow down the rate of infection.”
“We have also had very clear advice that if we lifted those measures at the end of this weekend, then we could expect those rates to go back up, and our hospitals filling up.
So the gains we have made because the public have followed the rules would be lost and thrown away very quickly.”
“We also know that there’s advice coming within the next few weeks that will give us a greater understanding of the extent of the gains that have been made.”
Mr Gething said the Welsh Government wanted to be ‘straight’ with the public about their being no prospect of lifting the lockdown after the Easter weekend, he said: “We need you to carry on for a period of time longer, because we really do understand this is making a difference.
I will be straight and honest when there’s more evidence about what the direct impact has been and indeed, if there is a path to removing lockdown measures.”
Mr Gething, who will be attending the Cobra meeting with the First Minister today, added: “The action you’ve taken already has made a real and positive difference to an NHS and saving lives.”
But, he said: “There is virtually zero prospect of the four governments to remove lockdown measures now.”
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has been providing scientific and technical advice to support government decision makers across the UK during the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr Gething said: “We understand there is virtually zero prospect of their advice being that it is safe and appropriate for governments to remove lockdown measures now.”
Staying at home
You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.
These measures must be followed by everyone.
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