First Minister details hospital admissions and number of people requiring critical care for coronavirus in Wales
The next three weeks will be “crucial in allowing us to plan together for recovery”, the First Minister has said at today’s daily briefing.
On Thursday it was announced that the current lockdown restrictions would remain in place for at least another three weeks at least.
Speaking at today’s press conference First Minister Mark Drakeford, said: “I know that the last three weeks have been very difficult and that many families have had to make real sacrifices.
“Now we are asking for a further three weeks of those sacrifices to continue. What I do want to say the people here in Wales is that all that effort, the effort made by our staff in the NHS and in social care, and the things that everyone in our different ways have been able to do, those things have made a real difference.
“I want to say to everybody in Wales, who has helped to make that difference diolch yn fawr, thank you so much for playing your part.
“And as ever on these occasions I just want for a moment to remember those people who are no longer with us at the end of this three week period, to think for a moment of their families, and to thank them, for the patience and for the strength that they have shown.
“We don’t forget the suffering that that has meant for people in so many parts of Wales.”
Details of the current ICU capacity and bed capacity across the country was also provided, with Mr Drakeford explaining that the number of critical care beds has doubled from 150 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
10,000 beds were available in the NHS three weeks ago. This has now increased by a further 7,000, which includes the new field hospitals that are being set up.
April 7th saw the highest number of daily new hospital admissions for coronavirus in the outbreak so far, with 196 patients admitted across Wales.
This number has been described as going “up and down” since then, however it has not risen above the figures on the 7th. Mr Drakeford noted that yesterday the admissions were “as low as 105”.
The number of people requiring critical care for coronavirus in Wales rose rapidly at the end of March and into April, with that figure at its highest so far on the 9th of April at 161. This has been described as having “stabilised” and has been below that number everyday since.
Looking ahead to how the current measures could be eased, Mr Drakeford said the figures are one of the reasons why they are to look “forward cautiously and carefully to the future to what Wales and the wider world will look like when the pandemic is over.”
Six different measures will be used over the next three weeks, including taking advice off the chief medical and scientific officer, to see what figures are falling and how long they need to continue going down to allow the lifting of certain measures as a loosing of the lockdown is evaluated.
The First Minister said the coming weeks will see continue strengthening the available resources at the NHS and to learn from European countries who are preparing to gradually lift the lockdown.
However it was noted that when measures are lifted there will likely be coronavirus outbreaks in different parts of the UK.
Mr Drakeford said tackling this would have to involve putting “public health surveillance measures in place.”
He said: “I want to say to people in Wales today that the next three weeks are weeks that we are determined to use to plan ahead, to work with governments across the United Kingdom to prepare for any easing of lockdown in a coordinated way.
“Whenever we begin to lift the lockdown, we are likely to see coronavirus outbreaks in different parts of the United Kingdom and that’s why we need to use this three weeks to put public health surveillance measures in place.
“So if there are local outbreaks of the virus we can identify them quickly and respond to them effectively.
“In Wales, we have retained a National Public Health Service with a strong local presence. It’s a great source of strength, and will be even more so as we come out of lockdown, and put those surveillance measures in place.
“As we come to lift the restrictions, we need to know what actions to take first.
“That’s why here in Wales, we’ve started to develop a series of tests which will help us to make those decisions.
“Any easing of restrictions will need to pass a series of tests such as does that action continue to protect public health, can it be policed, is it capable of being rapidly reversed if that were to be necessary.
“I wanted to discuss those tests with other governments in the United Kingdom, as I hope we move together to plan for our future.
“We are establishing a group of people from inside Wales and beyond, to challenge our thinking, to contribute new ideas and to help us to plan for recovery for the future of our health and well being and the future of our economy.
“Over the last three weeks we have continued to ask a great deal of people here in Wales, but by acting together we are making that difference. As we look beyond the next three weeks we look to the moment where the lockdown will begin to ease and eventually to end.
“Once again, the way we want to do that in Wales is by working together towards that day.”
Asked whether restrictions could remain in place across different parts of Wales depending on when their “peak” is, Mr Drakeford said if there is a “course of action that is the right one for Wales and there’s different elsewhere” then it will be taken.
However he stressed that he felt the best way forward would be to continue “to work with other governments across the United Kingdom to plan for a UK way of coming out of the coronavirus.”
The First Minister had previously stated that the virus is “moving east to west, and it is moving south to north.”
Speaking today about the possibility of certain parts of Wales or the UK remaining in lockdown while restrictions eased elsewhere, Mr Drakeford said: “We are planning for the day when things can change.
“If the data and the science tells us in three weeks time that we have suppressed the circulation of the virus in the community, to an extent where it is possible to begin to lift restrictions, that’s what we will look to do, but we will only do it when it is safe to do so.
“We introduced the lockdown measures on a uniform basis across the United Kingdom.
“I want to continue to work with other governments across the United Kingdom to plan for a UK way of coming out of the coronavirus.
“But as we have here in Wales, fine tune the regulations in ways that meet our own circumstances, there may still be some things at the margins that we will do differently in different parts of the UK. But a UK way of doing things remains, I think a strength, I hope we’ll be able to continue to do that.”
You can view the full brief from today, along with the Q&A below:
🎥 Yn fyw nawr | 🎥 Live now: https://t.co/LHSKiSjiWE
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) April 17, 2020
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