First Minister: “Together, we can keep Wales safe and we can keep Wales open”
The First Minister has highlighted the next three weeks as key for getting the spread of coronavirus back under some form of control, as rates have deviated away from modelling.
Speaking on Friday the First Minister Mark Drakeford said, “My message today has to be a serious one. This is the third press conference in a row about how to speak against a background of raising Coronavirus rates. Compared to only three weeks ago, the public health situation has deteriorated over that period. Cases have been rising across the UK, but Wales has the highest rates of all.”
“Now this has largely been driven by very high levels of infections in younger people, and amongst family members and close contacts at home. Mistakes at a private laboratory in England, which resulted in 1000s of people wrongly being told their tests were negative may have further fueled the growth in cases in South East Wales – and that’s where the rates have been highest.”
“All this means that the pandemic is very far from over, it also means that it is even more important that we take all the steps we can now to keep Wales open and to keep Wales safe.”
Referring to the slide above he added, “As you will see from this slide at the start of October, we had hoped we would be past the peak of this delta wave. The black line shows the actual cases of Coronavirus we’ve seen in Wales. The dotted blue line shows how the Swansea University modeling estimated how the delta wave would behave.
“Three weeks ago, cases of Coronavirus had began to fall back in line with the model. But then whereas the model continued to showcase is falling. In reality, they have risen sharply. The rate in recent days has been as high as 370 cases per 100,000 of the population, the highest in the whole of the pandemic. The ONS infection Survey estimates, 1 in 40 people in Wales could have Coronavirus. Now in the last couple of days, cases have begun to reduce again. But next three weeks is about making sure that we get back on track with that model and see the numbers falling across Wales.”
Cynhadledd i’r Wasg gyda’r Prif Weinidog | Live now with the First Minister https://t.co/w60R4hFUH6
— Welsh Government #KeepWalesSafe (@WelshGovernment) October 29, 2021
The First Minister said it is “ inevitable ” that more people are being admitted to hospital because they are falling so seriously ill with the virus, with more than 820 hospital beds across Wales are occupied today by Coronavirus related patients, “Very sadly, we have seen a rise in the last three weeks in the number of people dying with COVID-19 a rise that has continued since early September”
“I must be clear. If rates continue to rise rather than fall, the Cabinet will have to consider raising the alert level and reintroducing some further restrictions at the next review. Now, of course, none of us wanted to see that happen. None of us want to see your return to restrictions in the economy or in our own lives.
“We have to work together once again to bring [covid] under control. We’ve done it before and we can do it this time again. Together, we can keep Wales safe and we can keep Wales open.”
The latest update includes the following notes from Welsh Government:
- The guidance around self-isolation is changing. Adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people aged five to 17 will be asked to self-isolate until they have received a negative PCR test if someone in their household has symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19.
- People who are not vaccinated will still have to self-isolate for 10 days following contact with someone who has tested positive, including close contacts outside of their household.
- Head teachers will be given extra support to quickly put measures in place in their schools if case rates are high locally.
- Staff and secondary school students will also be encouraged to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests to help keep coronavirus out of schools.
- Welsh Government intends to extend the use of COVID Pass to theatres, cinemas and concert halls from 15 November. These are settings where large numbers of people gather indoors, close to each other, for long periods at a time.
- Vaccines remain the best defence against the virus – almost 400,000 people have had their autumn booster since the programme was launched and more than 40% of 12 to 15-year-olds have had their vaccine.
- Discussions have been held with the JCVI on the best interval between the second dose of the vaccine and the booster.
- The Welsh Government continues to encourage everyone to work from home wherever possible and to remind everyone of the legal requirement to wear a face covering in indoor public places.