Some “marginal differences” to lockdown restrictions could be made next week as “a reward” for huge efforts people have made
First minister Mark Drakeford has said Wales is beginning to “turn a corner” as Covid infections rates start to decrease.
He has said there could be some “early marginal differences” to lockdown restrictions announced next week as a “reward” for all the “astonishing efforts” people have made in the past few weeks.
But the first minister said, any significant changes to the current lockdown restrictions are unlikely until mid February.
Wales moved to alert level 4 – the highest level of restrictions under its Coronavirus control plan – on December 19 as infection rates soared.
Under the current lockdown restrictions non-essential shops, hospitality (except takeaway services) close contact services, salons and leisure services are closed and travel is limited to essential only.
Speaking to Sky News today, Mr Drakeford said that case rate across Wales has halved since level 4 restrictions came into force in December.
He said: “Before Christmas we had 650 cases for every 100,000 in the population and that number was growing every day.”
“We are now down to 300 (cases for every 100,000) today, so we have more than halved it, we’re just beginning to see the impact of that on our hospital services as well.”
Prior to the current lockdown, cases in the south were way ahead of those in the north, since lockdown, that has flipped and Wrexham and Flintshire now have the highest case rates per 100,000 population.
A new strain of the virus has been highlighted as one major factor in driving the number of cases up in North Wales.
“We go into this week, compared to where we were on Monday of last week with fewer patients in hospital in Wales suffering from coronavirus and fewer patients suffering from coronavirus in intensive care.” Said Mr Drakeford.
“Those are marginal gains this week, but I think it has demonstrated that the system has stabilised and has just begun to turn a corner.” He added.
Restrictions are reviewed by the Welsh government every three weeks with the next review being on January 29th.
Mark Drakeford said: “We will see then whether there are some early marginal differences we could make to lockdown, to reward people for all the astonishing efforts they’ve made during the last few weeks to help turn the tide on coronavirus.”
He added: “I think it will be certainly the middle of February before we begin to see any more significant lifting of the lockdown.”
“There are things we want to be getting on with, we want to see more children back in school for example.”
“We will look to see whether it is possible to offer more opportunities to meet in the open air where we know coronavirus is less of a risk.”
“We will do it in the way that we did it earlier last year in Wales, we will do it carefully, we will do it cautiously, we will do it in a way that will not throw away all the efforts and the gains that we have made since Christmas.”
Infections rates in Flintshire remain the second highest in Wales, as of Sunday the seven day rolling rate per 100,000 population stood at 529, down from 760 per 100,000 on January 5th.
🏴 Wales local authorities by highest number of COVID-19 positives per 100k population.
7–day rolling rate by specimen date – ending Jan 12. pic.twitter.com/9AY6DprwSm
— UK COVID-19 (@UKCovid19Stats) January 17, 2021
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