Posted: Fri 14th Jan 2022

Easing of restrictions in Wales, situation in health care “remains incredibly serious” says Welsh NHS Confederation

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The Welsh NHS Confederation has urged people to continue to take precautions against Covid as current restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the Omicron variant in Wales begin to be relaxed.

Covid rules in Wales will return to alert level zero, the lowest level of restriction, within the next two weeks, if the public health situation continues to improve, Mark Drakeford said during a press conference today.

The move comes as the latest public health data suggests cases of coronavirus have started to fall back from their very high levels and more than two-thirds of people aged 12 and over have received a booster or third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Wales has been under alert level two restrictions since Boxing Day after the Welsh government reintroduced measures to curb the spread of the omicron variant.

From tomorrow (15 January), the number of people who can be present at outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500.

From Friday 21 January Wales would move to alert level zero for all outdoor activities. This means there will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities.

If the downward trend continues, from Friday 28 January Wales would move to alert level zero for all indoor activities.

Despite the positive move from the Welsh Government, the situation in health and care “remains incredibly serious and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

The Welsh NHS Confederation speaks for the whole healthcare system in Wales, director Darren Hughes, said:

“It’s good to be able to offer the people of Wales a positive forward look.

“We want to put on record our huge thanks to health and care staff, and all those who have contributed including volunteers, the military and the third sector, for their hard work and determination to successfully rollout yet another challenging phase of our record-breaking vaccination programme.”

“The flexibility and rapid action by staff and organisations has meant a swift increase in protection against the virus for over 1.8 million people in Wales, at a time when pressure on services are at their highest in history.”

He said: “We do, however, want to add a note of caution.”

“Whilst there may be early signs of a downward trend in reported Covid cases in our communities, transmission is still extremely high and having a huge impact.”

“The situation in health and care remains incredibly serious and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

“Every part of the system is under extreme pressure – social care, community services, GPs, pharmacies, the ambulance service, A&Es, mental health, critical care and scheduled/non-urgent care.”

Darren said that staff absences from Covid and other winter pressures are impacting the NHS’ capacity to “deliver services across the board, leading to difficult decisions being made regarding the least urgent care.”

“We therefore need the public to carry on doing their bit, both in terms of taking precautions where possible and accessing services in the right way.”

“This means only calling 999 in serious, life-threatening emergencies and using other services such as the NHS 111 online symptom checker, local pharmacies and Minor Injury Units before attending A&Es or contacting your GP. Thank you for your continued support.” He said.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I want to thank everyone for following the rules we have had in place since Boxing Day to help keep Wales safe while the fast-moving omicron variant has surged through our communities.

“I also want to thank everyone involved in our vaccination programme for the enormous efforts to give almost a third of the population a booster since the start of December – this has been vital in increasing our protection against omicron.

“The actions we have taken together have helped us to weather the omicron storm. The latest data suggests some positive signs that the peak may have passed.

“We can now look more confidently to the future and plan to start gradually removing the alert level two restrictions, starting with the outdoors measures.

“But the pandemic is not over. We will closely monitor the public health situation – this is a fast-moving and volatile variant, which could change suddenly.

“I urge everyone to continue to follow the rules and have your vaccines to keep Wales safe.”

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