Posted: Tue 18th Aug 2020

Welsh Government publishes ‘coronavirus control plan’ and local lockdown triggers for next phase of ‘unfinished pandemic’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Aug 18th, 2020

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The Welsh Government has published a ‘coronavirus control plan’ which sets how it will manage the ”increased risk’ from Covid over the autumn and winter and what would trigger local lockdowns.

The plan describes the different stages of the possible spread of coronavirus and sets out how the government will respond in different circumstances as the weather becomes colder and people spend more time indoors.

During the Welsh Government’s weekly coronavirus press conference on Tuesday, health minister Vaughan Gething said: “The science shows that the virus spreads more quickly in colder darker months, so we need to be prepared.

“That is why today I’m publishing details of our coronavirus control plan for this next phase of the unfinished pandemic.”

“The plan sets out how all partners, including Public Health Wales, local government businesses on the people of Wales must work together to help manage the risks of coronavirus.”

The minister said: “The plan focuses on the approach we will take from prevention, through to introducing measures at local regional or national level. And of course prevention is better than cure.”

“Every one of us has a role to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus.”

He added: “When new cases do emerge, our investment in testing will help to identify new cases and clusters, so we can act to contain them quickly at a local level.”

“We’ve shown that by working with partners we can efficiently and effectively manage small clusters, and large outbreaks, as we saw in Anglesey and Merthyr Tydfil, this has meant we have not had to introduce wider restrictions in those areas.”

The minister oddly failed the mention the recent outbreak at Wrexham Maelor hospital at this point.

The plan also highlights a number of indicators which, if they begin to rise in a particular location or region, could indicate a Covid flare-up potentially triggering a local lockdown like those we have seen in the North West of England, West Yorkshire, Leicester and Scotland.

The covid plan states: “A cluster is when there is a group of new cases that are linked. This might be within a household when people living together pass the virus on to each other. It might be linked to a particular workplace. It could be linked to a pub or restaurant.”

“This is likely to be the result of one person infecting a small number of others in that place. The aim is to quickly identify all of those people. Rapid testing and immediate self-isolation can avoid passing the virus on to others. ”

“When an investigation of a cluster or complicated case suggests that there may be risk of wider transmission of the virus, this is described as an incident.

At this point, an Incident Management Team (IMT) is established. The IMT draws together health experts and other responsible bodies to investigate the incident and respond locally.”

“If the Incident Control Team confirm a wider spread of coronavirus in the area, they may declare an outbreak. At this point, an Outbreak Control Team (OCT) is established.”

“This brings together decision makers and health professionals from local authorities and relevant Health Boards, with other members dependent on the nature of the outbreak.

The members of the OCT may put in place a range of measures such as more testing, closing businesses or schools, or preventing events.”

The Covid plan says that if measures put in place by Outbreak Control Teams are not successful in preventing the spread of coronavirus the Welsh Government will “advise and act.”

“This will be done in consultation with local decision-makers.”

“Measures will be put in place across a locality or region to respond to the specific circumstances of that place and the progression of the virus within it.”

“The response will reflect what we know about the cause of infections in that area.”

The plans says that if cases are linked to places of worship or to pubs, those sectors might be closed down temporarily.

If it is linked to visitors coming into the area, travel restrictions might be introduced.

“There are no hard and fast rules for when local or regional measures might need to be introduced.

There are some indicators we will take into account, but any decision will be based on local knowledge and expertise.

“Indicators changing over time” may indicate action, such as a local lockdown is needed, they include:

• A significant and sustained rise in new cases in the community and other disease indicators at a local or regional level

• A significant increase in the seven-day rolling average of confirmed cases per 100,000 population and sustained increase in the rate of change which is not under control.

• A high and rising percentage of positive tests and testing rate per 100,000 population, in particular evidence of wider community transmission.

• A rise in the numbers and locations of incidents (clusters with the potential for onward transmission) that cannot be linked to trends in known areas, locations or settings under control measures.

• A rise in the number and proportion of new sporadic cases which are not part of an identified cluster or outbreak.

“Decisions will not be based on indicators alone.

All decisions will be informed by the specific local context and situation on the ground, including advice from local and national health and environmental health professionals.”

“There are a wide range of things we may do” the government says but those depend on the specific situation in an area.

They include:

• Closing businesses and venues where transmission is occurring.

• Restrictions on movement of people. For example asking people to stay within their local area.

• Prevent or limit the number of people that can meet indoors or outdoors.

• Limiting how and when people can use public transport, including limiting the number of people in a vehicle or carriage.

• Requiring the use of face coverings in a wider range of places.

• Any other requirements that could prevent further community transmission.

“The intention will be to target measures so that we only close down those things that are causing the spread in that area.

Any measures we put in place will only last as long as necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

We expect to review restrictions at least every two weeks. This is the amount of time it takes for new symptoms to show should others have been infected.” The plan states.

Reacting to plan Shadow Health Minister – Andrew RT Davies MS – said:

“It may be an uncomfortable fact, but Covid is here for the foreseeable future, and so plans must be drawn up and implemented to deal with it, and return life here to as normal as possible.

“To allow this, then a targeted approach – including, if necessary, local lockdowns – is the way forward.

“Anything else, any further blanket lockdown, will again have a damaging effect on our economy, on our young people’s education, and – critically – on the health of our nation. After all, we’re already facing the ticking time bomb of missed diagnoses or failures to start treatment for cancer and heart disease.

“All efforts must be channelled now at avoiding another national lockdown, and planning for the winter pressures NHS Wales faces annually while dealing with the backlog, and securing an economic recovery from the first lockdown.”

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