Flintshire’s rise in coronavirus driven by ‘community transmission’ as Health Minister says all options on table (but not a curfew)
Wales’ Health Minister said he cannot rule out introducing tighter restrictions if cases of coronavirus continue to rise.
It comes after the Minister, Vaughan Gething announced today that Wales was the only part of the UK that did not see a fall in cases at the end of November.
A graph presented at this afternoon’s Welsh Government briefing showed that despite a reduction in the number of people testing positive after the Wales-wide firebreak, cases have been steadily rising in the weeks since.
Unlike the end of the UK lockdown over the summer, restrictions were not gradually eased at the end of the firebreak.
Instead the Welsh Government urged people to consider what they “should do”, not what they “can do”.
However last week it was announced that new restrictions would be introduced on the hospitality sector, with pubs and restaurants seeing the introduction of an alcohol ban and a 6pm closure time. Venues such as cinemas and bowling alleys have also been forced to close.
Speaking during Monday’s briefing Mr Gething said if the Welsh Government does not see a reduction in cases, further action may need to be taken.
“The situation in Wales is very serious,” said the health minister.
“Our health service is under considerable and sustained pressure because of the number of people who need to be admitted to hospital for treatment with coronavirus.
“The latest data shows the all Wales case rate is almost 70 points higher than it was on Friday. This shows just how fast Coronavirus is spreading.
“We continue to see these high levels of Coronavirus in our community, translating into record numbers in our hospitals.
“Wales was the only part of the UK where infection rates did not appear to be falling in the last week of November according to the ONS infection survey.
“This reflects that there were tighter measures elsewhere in the UK. England was still within its four week lockdown. Northern Ireland was between lockdown and Scotland was tightening its restrictions.
“We strengthened coronavirus restrictions here in Wales in response to this incredibly serious situation on Friday, to slow the spread of the virus and to protect people’s health.
“As with the firebreak period we will not see that impact immediately, it will take a couple of weeks to feed through into confirmed cases.”
A graph was also shown for Wales wide data on hospital admissions (top image).
Asked by BBC Wales how seriously the Welsh Government were considering another lockdown, Mr Gething said: “We’re actively considering each day, whether the measures we have are the right ones in place or not. We’re committed to review of the regulations in the next week and a half or so, I will consider what we do.”
“As I have indicated in my statement today, we’re actually considering what we may need to do after the Christmas period. It isn’t just the choices we make in the government, is is the choices that each of us make about how we live our lives”.
“We see from the figures, we see from the reality of where we are , if we don’t have restrictions that work that are going to help blunt and then reduce the growth of Coronavirus, then more people will come to harm.
“If we need to act at a different point in time, then we will. This is really a message for each and every one of us about what we are prepared to do, about the choices we make, about how many people we see, how long we see them for and what we can do to take care of ourselves and each other. Because the rules of government could only take us so far. It’s then about the choices that we all make.”
The Health Minister what was driving Flintshire and Wrexham’s, “We actually think this is about community transmission.”
“I hope it’ll lead to people making different choices in the future, because you’re right that we do still see higher rates in Wrexham and Flintshire compared to the rest of North Wales, but we see rates across North Wales as well, in in five out of the six authorities are now above the previous 50 Mark per action to be taken.”
“So there isn’t just an issue in North East Wales, even though it’s a more significant issue there, it is still broadly a problem of community transmission taking place right across North Wales.”
The Minister was specifically asked if another firebreak period was off the table after the ‘Christmas Bubbles’ end on the 28th, he said, “No, everything is on the table we’re discussing through this week, and will continue to discuss what measures we need to take.
“We’ve learned that trying to have hard and fast commitments to never contemplate future action is just not the right or the responsible thing to do. So of course, that’s an option that we’ll need to consider.”
There had been rumours circulating of some kind of ‘curfew’, and we asked the Minister about that measure, he replied: “A curfew has never been a response that we’ve considered” calling the rumour ‘absolute rubbish’.
You can view the full briefing, including Q&A on the below video:
Yn fyw nawr gyda’r Gweinidog Iechyd Vaughan Gething | Live now with Health Minister Vaughan Gething https://t.co/SKDd0ItYMF
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) December 7, 2020
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