Health minister warns people should not expect major lockdown changes this week

PEOPLE should not expect major changes to coronavirus measures at the end of the week, the health minister has said.

Vaughan Gething made the statement during a press conference in Cardiff on Monday when asked about what the future holds for Wales as the country fast approaches the review date for the lockdown imposed back in December.

He said that the rates of coronavirus remain high in Wales and stresses that people should not expect much to change when it comes to easing restrictions to prevent pressure returning upon the NHS.

North Wales Chronicle:

Welsh Government Health and Social Services Minister, Vaughan Gething MS

Mr Gething said: “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 is 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 are 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.”

North Wales Chronicle:

Data produced by Welsh Government and Public Health Wales indicating that Wales is currently leading the way with the vaccine rollout

Earlier in the briefing, the health and social services minister showed slides that have Wales leading the way in terms of vaccinating its population

The latest figures show that almost 271,000 have received the first does of their vaccine in Wales, 8.7 per cent of the population.

The Labour MS went on to address concerns that have been circulating about the effectiveness of vaccines since the discovery of new strains – but he affirmed that the jabs remain efficient.

He said that the new strain first identified in Kent has gone on to become the main source of COVID-19 infection for Wales – telling the nation that half of the cases in mid and south Wales to be linked with this new strain.

Larger numbers centre on North Wales, where 70 per cent of the active cases have been linked to the mutated strain.

However, the minister said that this should not put people off getting vaccinated if they are called up to receive their jab.

He said: “My understanding is that the vaccines are effective against the Kent strain. It is part of the concern with the other strains from around the world – like Brazil, Japan and South Africa.”

The minister continued that it is important to continue vaccinating people as quickly as possible to build up immunity.

He adds that there will also be consideration of further travel restrictions internationally to block off any new strains of the virus and keep Wales safe.

A formal review of the lockdown regulations in Wales is due to take place this week and will be announced publicly on Friday by the First Minister.

North Wales Chronicle | Anglesey