Posted: Fri 24th Apr 2020

Wales lockdown exit plan ‘framework’ announced by First Minister

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Apr 24th, 2020


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A framework that will help determine when the strict stay-at-home restrictions can begin to be relaxed in Wales and will help to find a way for people in Wales to live and work alongside coronavirus.

The Welsh Government have said today that that a Wales-wide programme of surveillance, case identification, and contact tracing is being developed through the office of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton.

This will “highlight the importance of community testing and support the containment of emerging coronavirus infections as and when restrictions are eased.”

The seven questions that shape the framework, include:

– Would easing a restriction have a negative effect on containing the virus?
– Does a particular measure pose a low risk of further infection?
– How can it be monitored and enforced?
– Can it be reversed quickly if it creates unintended consequences?
– Does it have a positive economic benefit?
– Does it have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing?
– Does it have a positive impact on equality?

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales’ office has developed the Wales-wide programme of surveillance, case identification, and contact tracing.

It will have four main strands – improved surveillance of cases of coronavirus; effective identification of cases and contact tracing; learning from international experience and engaging with the public.

Speaking at today’s Welsh Government press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the framework will help Assembly Members “decide when the time is right to start lifting the stay at home restrictions carefully.”

Mr Drakeford continued onto say that during the pandemic the Welsh Government had “worked closely” with governments across the United Kingdom and today’s framework “is part of our contribution to that work.”

He said:”Over the last two months, our approach has been one of lockdown. We have taken unprecedented steps to protect everyone, but particularly those most at risk from serious illness.

“This approach has helped the NHS prepare and cope with the virus. Even though we have sadly seen a growing number of people die, it has helped to save many more lives.

“As ever I wanted to acknowledge the loss that all these families are experiencing. from those who lost family members at the start of the outbreak to those who are facing that same experience today.

“The strategy that we have followed does come with its own costs to people’s health and well being and to our economy. But the efforts everyone in Wales has made over the last five weeks have had a positive impact on the course of the disease and I want to thank everyone once again for all their ongoing help and support.

“Today, we are making some small changes in Wales to the coronavirus regulations following the first three week review.

“Some areas of the regulations are being strengthened, and others are being eased, but I want to be completely clear, the overarching stay at home regulations remain in place, even as we look to the future.”

“The framework sets out a three stage process. It sets out how we will know when the time is right to begin safely to ease the restrictions. For example, when hospital admissions fallen for a sustained period.

“It then sets out the seven questions we will use when we consider each option for relaxing restrictions. would each single restriction have a negative effect on containing the virus? Does a particular measure pose a low risk of further infection? How can it be monitored and enforced? Can it be reversed quickly if it creates unintended consequences? Does it have a positive economic benefit? Does it have a positive impact on people’s well being? And importantly does it have a positive impact on equality?”

Mr Drakeford continued onto say that there is a still a “long road still ahead of us towards recovery to pre pandemic levels” and that this cannot be achieved until there is a vaccine or an effective treatment is in place.

However asked if he is confident that Wales has the correct and necessary systems in place for a large scale contact tracing and testing system to take place, Mr Drakeford acknowledged that it will be a “challenging task”.

He added: “What I’m keen to do is to make sure we use the time we’ve got to put that system in place and our chief medical officer has already set out the elements that he thinks we would need.

“We have asked our Public Health Wales colleagues to draw up a plan. And at the start of next week, I will be working with them and others to translate the plan into actual delivery on the ground in different parts of Wales.

“We want to use all the time we’ve got with our colleagues to put that system in place and then the interplay between the speed at which we can lift measures and our ability to trace the impact of that in the community will be something that we will have to look at as that system as a traffic light system comes into being.”

We asked the First Minister about his comments last week where he said he wanted to have a conversation to see if Welsh Government thinking on coming out of lockdown “was supported by the people of Wales”. We asked what routes the feedback and engagement has and will take.

The First Minister said, “Well, publishing the framework today is part of that ambition so people can see exactly what we are proposing, how we will identify when to come out of lockdown, the tests that will apply and the services we need to have in place and so on.”

“We will be discussing this document through all the different forums that the Welsh Government has, and we got many, many of them.

“All ministers in the Welsh Government meet groups in the areas for which they are responsible, whether that’s the faith forum that we’ll be meeting next week, the local government partnership council, we meet all the time and this document will be part of those discussions.

“There’ll be other ways as well in which members of the public can directly respond to it. I’ve answered questions directly from members of the public in Wales through the Welsh Government’s website, to doing it with radio stations, across Wales, my colleagues are doing the same.

“We are very keen to have that conversation, and publishing the document today is meant to provide the basis on which that conversation can be conducted.”

The full framework document launched today can be found here.

You can view the full briefing today by the First Minister and the Q&A session on the below video:

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