Posted: Mon 9th Nov 2020

First minister “confident” impact of 17 day firebreak will bring R number down in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Nov 9th, 2020

First minister Mark Drakeford has said he is “confident” Wales will see the impact of the firebreak lockdown period which ended at a minute past midnight today.

The firebreak or was implemented to bring a “short, sharp shock” to the virus, in a bid break the chains of infection and reduce the rising numbers of people being admitted into hospital.

A new set of national measures have now come into force replacing the firebreak regime which saw pubs, restaurants and most shops close for 17 days.

Asked if the firebreak has been a success, Mark Drakeford told BBC Radio Wales, “I remember saying on the very first day we announced it [firebreak] that we wouldn’t see the benefit during the time of firebreak itself.

“We would see those figures begin to improve in the weeks after the firebreak was over.

“What those figures demonstrate is just how important it has been to have this firebreak here in Wales to turn back the tide of those rising numbers of cases hospital admissions.”

“I am confident that we will see the impact of what we have done over the last 17 days in the weeks that will now follow.”

It is estimated by SAGE that infections are growing by between 1% and 3% per day in Wales.

The most recent estimate of the Reproduction (R) number for Wales from SAGE is predicted to be between 1.0 and 1.3

Mark Drakeford said: “We will want to see for example , the R number come down below one again because the R number is a reflection of the extent to which coronavirus is spreading in the community.”

“We want that spread to slow down and as much as possible to go into reverse so R number will be important.”

“We need to slow down the flow of people into our hospitals, and we need to slow down the conversion of those people who end up in hospital needs and critical care.”

“There are a whole series of things that we look at every day and we will be monitoring the impact of the last 17 days very carefully against that list of indicators.”

Voluntary mass testing of everyone living or working in Liverpool began last week in the first pilot of ‘whole city testing.’

New, rapid turnaround tests have been deployed in the city through a partnership between Liverpool City Council, NHS Test and Trace and Ministry of Defence, with logistical support from Armed Forces personnel.

Asked if Wales could see similar whole region or town testing, Mr Drakeford said: “We are involved in the Liverpool experiment in the sense that we have Welsh government officials who have a role in learning the lessons from it.”

“If whole town testing, as it’s called, can be made to work in Liverpool and can succeed there, then we will look to see how rapidly we can apply those lessons.”

“We would of course want to apply them in those parts of Wales where coronavirus is in the fastest circulation.”

England entered a four week circuit break on Thursday with similar restrictions put in place to those seen in Wales over the past fortnight.

The new national measures coming into force from today, Monday November 9 include:

  • People will only be able to meet people who are part of their ‘bubble’ in their own home; only two households will be able to form a ‘bubble’. If one person from either household develops symptoms, everyone should immediately self-isolate.
  • People will be able to meet in groups of up to four people (not including any children aged under 11) in regulated indoor places, such as hospitality – bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants. No alcohol can be served in any of these venues between 10pm and 6am, and where premises have a licence to sell alcohol they will have to close at 10.20pm.
  • As part of keeping our risks to a minimum, people should avoid non-essential travel as much as possible. There will be no legal restrictions on travel within Wales for residents, but people can only travel into and out of Wales with a reasonable excuse.
  • Up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoors activity (such as an exercise class – where a responsible body is managing the event) and up to 30 in an organised activity outdoors, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other covid safety measures are followed.

In addition:

  • All childcare facilities, schools, further education colleges, work-based learning and adult learning providers can return to the same model of operation as before the firebreak. Universities can continue to provide a combination of in-person teaching and blended learning.
  • Places of worship can resume services.
  • All retail businesses can reopen, including close-contact services such as hair dressers/barbers and beauty salons.
  • Sport and leisure facilities, including gyms and swimming pools, can reopen, but the operators must take all reasonable measures to manage risk and maintain physical distancing;
  • Entertainment venues can reopen. These include cinemas, bowling alleys, skating rinks, museums, galleries, bingo halls, casinos and amusement arcades, but theatres and concert halls, nightclubs and sexual entertainment venues are still required to be closed.
  • Local authority services can resume based on local circumstances.
  • Home viewings and home moves are allowed.
  • Visits to care homes will be permitted, subject to local circumstances.

All premises re-opening will still be required to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risks of spreading the virus.

This includes measures to ensure 2m social distancing is observed, as well as other measures, such as restricting numbers, implementing one-way systems or limiting the time people can remain on the premises.

Everyone is also being urged to follow the basics at all times – maintain social distancing; washing their hands often and wearing a face mask indoor public places.

People will also be asked to work from home whenever possible.






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