Welsh Government Covid review, unlikely to see “a significant unlocking”

Health minister Vaughan Gething has warned not to expect “a significant unlocking” of the current coronavirus restrictions following a review this week.

The Welsh Government is due to review the restrictions this week, with first minister Mark Drakeford announcing the outcome of this on Friday.

But Mr Gething said although there was “good news” in reduced transmission rates and declining hospital admission rates, coronavirus still poses a “significant risk” in Wales.

“We look at all of the different matters available to us, but, as I said last week, no one should expect a significant unlocking of the current lockdown measures,” he said. “They are what are keeping us safe, it is helping to drive down the overall transmission rate – we’re now at just under 230 cases per 100,000 for the figures just released today.

“Now that’s good news to see it coming down but there’s still quite a high level of coronavirus circulating, and our positivity rate is still well above the 10 per cent mark to consider moving beyond that, as well as the fact that our NHS is still under lots and lots of pressure.

“In our hospitals, even though we’re seeing a decline in admission rates, our critical care units are now operating at still about 140 per cent of their normal capacity.

“There’s a range of different things to consider and I hope people will be patient and still do the right thing and recognise that there is still a significant risk to all of us. We have to do the right thing, which may mean that our measures have to be extended for some time to come, but no one should expect a significant change in the arrangements or a significant easing of those arrangements at the end of this week.”

The health minister was also asked about reports the lockdown restrictions may be eased in England, and whether a four-nation approach to easing the lockdown would be preferred.

“It’s helpful for us to discuss these matters sensibly with each other,” he said. “There is now much more regular engagement between the four governments, that’s with the first ministers are meeting together with Michael Gove for the UK Government.

“We haven’t had that direct engagement between the first ministers of not just Wales but also Scotland, Northern Ireland and Boris Johnson as prime minister, I think that would help us to do so.

“I hope that as it becomes a more real possibility will be able to have a grown up and constructive conversation between all four governments in the UK.”

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