First local lockdown in Wales driven by people meeting indoors, lack of social distancing and people coming back from holidays abroad
The first local lockdown in Wales will begin in Caerphilly County from 6pm today.
It is being introduced following a rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in coronavirus in the county.
They have been linked to clusters of people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and summer holidays overseas.
In the last seven days, there have been 133 new cases confirmed, equivalent to a rate of 55.4 cases per 100,000 population – the highest rate in Wales and one of the highest in the UK. It is expected case numbers will continue to rise.
From 6pm Tuesday, people will not be allowed to enter or leave the Caerphilly County Borough Council area without a reasonable excuse.
Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor areas and people will only be able to meet outdoors – meetings with other people indoors and extended households will not be allowed for the time being. No overnight stays will be allowed.
Schools, pubs, bars and restaurants will remain open under the measures.
The new restrictions will apply to everyone living within the Caerphilly County Borough Council area and are expected to be in place until at least October.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “We’ve been tracking the spread of coronavirus across the whole of Wales and we’ve noticed a spike in particular over the last week in the Caerphilly County area.
Yesterday’s figures showed 55 cases per hundred thousand, that puts Caerphilly in the top 10 of local authority areas in the UK.
Mr Gething told BBC Radio Wales that he expected the infection rate to rise “because we did additional testing from Saturday in the Caerphilly area and the first days results showed a positivity rate of 4%.”
“That may not sound significant but actually it shows there is community transmission taking place and it’s much greater than any other area of Wales.”
“The point about coronavirus we shouldn’t lose sight of is that even a week ago we had the lowest rate of coronavirus across the UK nations, were now in a position a week later where we have seen a significant spike in activity.” He said.
“That shows coronavirus over the course of a couple of weeks can build up very quickly.
If we don’t address the issue and go further, you will see wider community transmission within the Caerphilly area, that will spread to other areas as well.
That’s unfortunately why we’ve had to introduce the local lockdown measures.” Said the Health Minister.
Asked why the Welsh Government wasn’t closing pubs in Caerphilly in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus, he said:
“Significant transmission isn’t taking place in pubs, pubs, of course, need to follow the rules to remain open so I know the council are going to be looking at checking that their pubs are following the rules.”
“What’s actually taking place is we’re seeing an element coming back from European travel, that’s why we took action against Greek islands last week.
“The largest element the transmission is taking place in people’s homes, that’s partly because people do relax when they’re in that environment, there is also sadly, some deliberate rule-breaking, if you’re having a large house party with 20-30 or more people, I don’t think there’s any suggestion you don’t understand the rules, that’s a choice, and that choice has consequences.”
The Chief Medical Officer of Wales Dr Frank Atherton said that Wales has reached “a bit of a turning point in the disease progression.”
“We are at a place where we need to really remind everybody that social distancing is really important.” He told BBC Radio Wales.
“Over the weekend we saw a very significant increase in the number of cases, and that’s what caused the alarm bells to ring.
It caused us to think about what extra measures were needed particularly in Caerphilly County, but it does apply to the rest of Wales
We need to take social distancing and hygiene very seriously.” He said.
Dr Athetton said that as we got into the summer “we were in a good position because we know the virus doesn’t transmit easily in sunny warmer weather and so we have a reasonably good summer the numbers came down.”
“We’re moving now into autumn and winter and people need to just remember that the virus has not gone away, it is still around.”
Although the cases that we’re seeing are not translating into hospital admissions yet, it can only be a matter of time before that happens.
The last thing that any of us wants is to get back to the situation we faced in March and April where the NHS was almost facing overload, so unless we take this very seriously now, we’re going to get back into that position.” He said.
Infection rates in Flintshire remain low, in the last seven days, there have been 10 new cases confirmed, equivalent to a rate of 6.4 cases per 100,000 population.
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