Face coverings “not the silver bullet” to halt spread of coronavirus in Wales says Health Minister
Health minister Vaughan Gething has said the wearing of face coverings is not the “silver bullet” to halt the rise of coronavirus cases in Wales.
The health minister said he is also prepared to introduce a Wales-wide lockdown if the current wave of infections grows across the country.
From today, face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public places across Wales as rules are tightened to prevent a fresh coronavirus crisis.
There’s also a new limit on the number of people who can meet indoors as “evidence shows indoor gatherings are the main source of transmission for the virus in Wales.” The Welsh Government has said.
In South Wales, a local lockdown is in place in Caerphilly due to a rapid rise in the number of positive coronavirus cases.
Enhanced public health action is also being taken in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil following a rise in cases there and people in Newport have been told to be extra vigilant there following a sharp rise cases which have been linked to a number and pubs and bars in the City.
Talking to BBC Radio Wales this morning, Vaughan Gething said: “Over the summer we saw a sustained fall in coronavirus cases and the virus was effectively pretty suppressed in every part of Wales. We did that without having made masks mandatory.”
“We have seen a couple of different things with the virus increasing particularly in younger people and we are now seeing it increase in older people.”
“We said in our national coronavirus control plan that at various points we may need to take national measures and introducing and mandating face coverings are one of those
As we’ve just gone over the 20 per one hundred thousand, this is the time to introduce masks.”
He said: “Masks aren’t the silver the bullet, they won’t protect you if you’re not respecting social distancing if you go into someone’s home and are having a much larger gathering than you should do.
I think (making the wearing of masks mandatory) is a really important signal and they make a contribution in some form.
We’ve never said that masks are utterly useless and mean nothing but the evidence around them still isn’t significantly strong.
That’s why we didn’t mandate them earlier on in the course the pandemic and as I say, we successfully reduced and suppress coronavirus across Wales through the summer.”
Mr Gething said that the rise in coronavirus infections, “is because of the way that we have chosen to behave.”
“We appear to be in a parallel position to early February and we were in national lockdown by the third week of March.”
“We have a number of weeks to be able to get to a position where we can recover some of the ground with an effective return to social distancing and a return to respecting the rules we have in place to save people lives, or we will be forced into greater local lockdowns and the potential for another national lockdown which is absolutely where I do not want to be.”
Asked if Wales could introduce its own national lockdown Mr Gething said:
“When we went into national lockdown on the 23rd of March, it was all four governments acting together with our respective responsibilities, so yes, we could.
It would not be my preference for Wales to act alone, I would much rather have proper coordination between all four governments.”
He said: “I’ve had a meeting with all four health ministers last week, we’ll meet again with our chief medical officers this week, we are doing our part in it, but I really think a reintroduction of Cobra meetings is now more important than ever given where we are.
If we don’t get that four-nation cooperation, I’m prepared, as is the First Minister is to make a decision just for Wales.”
Mr Gething said its the Welsh governments preference to see all four governments moving together, “It’s difficult for people to see different messages from different governments and all four nations in the UK are seeing a growing tide of coronavirus”
“We’re seeing similar challenges, so I believe that working together we’ll get the best answer, but whatever happens, we’re committed to keeping Wales safe and making the right choice for Wales.”
The health minister will hold a press conference at 12.30 pm today, it can be viewed here: https://twitter.com/WelshGovernment
From this week, we’ll be holding more live coronavirus updates.
We’re planning to hold them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 12:30pm. They will be live streamed on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Join us for the latest information on the situation in Wales. pic.twitter.com/E9MKAW0weY
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) September 14, 2020
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