‘Concern’ over sudden change in guidance for those shielding from Covid-19 in Wales

 

Elderly farmer

A Senedd Member has raised concerns regarding the announcement that people who are shielding from Covid-19 will be able to meet others and exercise outdoors from tomorrow.

The Welsh Government confirmed this morning that those who had been shielding from Coronavirus could now exercise outdoors from Monday, following similar advice being issued to vulnerable people in England.

There are two changes to the advice for this group:

  • Outdoor exercise is unlimited, as long as individuals strictly follow social distancing rules and hygiene practices.
  • Those who are shielding can meet outside with people from another household – but should not go into another person’s house or share food with them.

However, Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell questioned why the guidance was changing for the group of “extremely vulnerable people” whilst the R rate had not changed. The First Minister confirmed on Friday that the rate of transmission was still between 0.7 and 1.

“The last few months have been incredibly challenging for those who have had to shield,” Delyth Jewell said.

“They have had to go months without leaving the house and months without seeing loved ones. The huge sacrifices they have made must be recognised.

“However, questions must be asked on why the advice is changing for this extremely vulnerable group of people whilst the virus is still at the same rate of transmission as it was a few weeks ago.

“The First Minister himself confirmed on Friday that the R rate was still at 0.8 – which is dangerously close to 1.  What advice have the Welsh Government received to make them change this policy? Can they guarantee the new guidance will protect this vulnerable group of people?”

 

‘Wrong’

Delyth Jewell, who is Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Local Government, also questioned why the news was sent to journalists just a day before the change, and not the people the change would impact.

“And why was this change in policy communicated to the press before the very people it will effect?” she asked.

“Letters should have been sent to keep shielding people updated weeks ago, so that they could prepare for any changes. This will affect their lives hugely. Telling the press first and people second was both wrong and disappointing. No one should have found out about this change through reading confused reports in the press.

“Without a robust test and trace system in place, we cannot possibly know where the virus is spreading in our communities. Loosening the lockdown without such a system in place risks a second wave. Getting track and trace right must continue to be the Welsh Government’s top priority going forward before we can even think about easing restrictions further.”

‘Challenging’

Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething said that he was “pleased that so many have been shielding so diligently – not only protecting themselves but also helping to protect our NHS”.

“We recognise how challenging these last few months, with minimal face-to-face contact with others, has been.

“I am incredibly proud of all those who have and continue to provide the vital support to enable people to shield. Our Local Authority partners, pharmacies, volunteers and major food retailers have all pulled together to make shielding possible.”

The Chief Medical Officer is continuing to develop his advice for shielding people after 15 June, he said. All who are shielding will receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales in the coming fortnight setting out the next steps.

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Josh Foster
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Josh Foster

It’s changing, Delyth, because the Welsh government is desperate not to diverge too far from the UK government position, because Labour is first and foremost an unionist party.

Despite Drakeford’s newfound status as hero of the national movement, he remains an ardent unionist, and you and your colleagues continue to support his government, in myriad ways.

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Delyth is screeching because, well, it’s time for her weekly or regular screech. And this is as good a reason as any if you are in a screeching mood. Having voluntarily self isolated I just keep an eye out for information in the media. Not easy when you have politicians making announcements and journos on BBC and MSM putting their own jaundiced spin on most things. But we will survive despite all the wallies sounding off around us.

Ann Owen
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Ann Owen

So that’s jump when UK Gov jumps! And very abruptly too. So much for slow and cautious – Wales is actually going further than England, where they can only meet one person outside. Here in Wales they can meet whole households, unlimited numbers! Wholesale ditching then of the Stay Home mantra – now seems to be go outside as much as you can! And no real guidelines for those shielding for around a fortnight!! Not good!

max wallis
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max wallis

The situation is fast moving; it’s good that FM Drakeford has dropped his schedule of 3 weeks to the next review. Once he’d accepted that the virus dies within two minutes (outdoor sunshine) Drakeford had no reason for locking down those shielding. Removing the lock is quite different from telling them to go out in parks. Now each shielded person can judge if they want to go outside; they can await the CMO’s guidance in twoi weeks time if they wish. They don’t need telling by Delyth Jewell that they are “extremely” vulnerable. As leading judge Sumption insists, this is… Read more »

Leigh Richards
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Leigh Richards

The guidance may have changed but that all it is – guidance. No member of any hitherto vulnerable groups who have been shielding have to venture outside their homes if they dont feel comfortable doing so. But at least they now have the same right the rest of us in wales have to exercise outside and to meet others outside.

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

That statement is a lot clearer than most of what we’ve heard over recent weeks.

Kerry Davies
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Kerry Davies

The advice in Wales is fairly specific and there are extremely limited changes for the shielded. They still can’t go to public spaces like shops or where crowds gather and it will make minimal difference, if any at all, to how I treat my partner who is shielded. The thing many “normals” don’t seem to appreciate is that those relative few with what constitutes shielding vulnerabilities never did go round hugging everyone or allowing close contact with sick people. Things like wiping shopping trolleys and avoiding close proximity are everyday things. We will never fly again, don’t use public transport,… Read more »

John Ellis
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John Ellis

I can’t say that I’m wholly and entirely impressed by every single aspect of Welsh government’s response during the current crisis; but nevertheless I think that one of the reasons why a very considerable number of folk in Wales appear to have at least qualified confidence in our government’s response to the pandemic is the calm and cautious ‘very steady, bit by bit’ approach to relaxing the ‘lock-down’. Plagues are by no means unprecedented in human history, but not one of us now alive has experienced anything remotely as threatening as Covid-19 within our life-times, and people are thus quite… Read more »