Short lockdowns “a disaster to be avoided” says epidemiology Professor as cases in Wales continue to spike
Short lockdowns, like the recent two week firebreak in Wales are “a disaster to be avoided” a top epidemiology Professor has warned as cases in Wales continue to rise.
Prof Tim Spector, principal investigator for the Welsh government endorsed ZOE Covid Symptom app has said Wales now has 3-4 times the rate of new cases of the rest of the country.
Referring to the 17 day Wales wide ‘firebreak’ lockdown which began on 23 October, Prof Spector said: “It looks like the experiment of short lockdowns and releases are a disaster to be avoided.”
Health minister Vaughan Gething said yesterday the situation in Wales is now “very serious, 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.”
“I’m afraid that we can see just quite how quickly cases have risen through the end of November.”
“The latest data ( published on Monday) shows the all Wales case rate is almost 70 points higher than it was on Friday and this shows just how fast coronavirus is spreading.”
“There are now eight local authorities with rates higher than 400 cases per 100,000.”
“That’s four times as many errors as on Friday.”
“Cases are rising in 19 out of 22 local authority areas in Wales.”
Mr Gething said: “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 lockdowns and Scotland with tightening its restrictions.”
UK cases still slowly dropping today – but Wales now has 3-4 times the rate of new cases of the rest of the country. Looks like the experiment of short lockdowns and releases are a disaster to be avoided. We now need steady policies and advice over the next 3 months – stay ahead! pic.twitter.com/Wp0JhqLQ2a
— Tim Spector (@timspector) December 8, 2020
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 this morning, Mr Gething said: “Unfortunately since the firebreak and despite all of the messaging and encouragement for more people to do the right thing, we haven’t seen the significant and sustained change in our pattern of behavior.
“It’s difficult for people because it’s been an extraordinary difficult year, people value that social contact and yet that social mixing in household and other areas, is what the virus thrives on.”
Mr Gething said the government has been “really clear that there needed to be a reduction in social contact, that people needed to make choices about who they see, how often they see them and how much time they spend with them.”
“The difficulty is that we also said if we go back to exactly the same pattern of behavior that we had the way we lived our lives before the fire break, then we’d see cases rising.”
“We’re seeing real harm being done in the here and now.” Said Mr Gething.
“We’re going to have to make more difficult choices over the coming weeks to keep Wales safe and frankly to keep more people alive.” He said.
Up to three households will be able to meet up during a five-day Christmas period of 23 to 27 December in the UK.
The move was announced last month as part of a broad set of UK-wide measures to help people come together during the festive period, in a way that has been described as “safe as possible.”
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to disturb the Christmas settlement.”
Asked if it was possible the Christmas plan for Wales would need to be revisited, Mr Gething said: “It’s possible”
But added, “I’m not convinced that changing the Christmas arrangements now would actually lead to more people doing something different.”
“It’s really about how we can persuade the public to make different choices, not because it’s in my interest because it’s in the interest of them, their families, their loved ones, to do the right thing to take care of themselves, and each other.”
“If we can’t do that, we’ll see more harm, more people coming into hospitals, and really importantly more people who never leave our hospitals alive to go and see the love ones.”
Despite some alarming local media headlines, infection rates in Flintshire remain relatively stable averaging around 30 positive tests recorded per day.
The rolling seven day cases per 100, 000 between 28 November and December sits at 139, Wrexham is 213, the average case rate per 100,000 in Wales is 308.
Port Talbot (621 per 100, 000) and Blaenau Gwent (529 per 100,000) have the highest rates in Wales.
Gwynedd (40 per 100, 000, Anglesey (51 per 100, 000) the lowest rates in Wales.
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