Coronavirus: MPs call for restrictions on those travelling to second homes in Wales
MPs have written to the UK Health Secretary asking him to place travel restrictions on people fleeing the rest of the UK to self-isolate in rural Wales.
They are concerned that if the people fall ill, or bring the coronavirus with them, it will put further pressure on the already over-stretched Welsh NHS.
NHS Wales has a lower number of critical care beds for the size of the population than the rest of the UK. Wales also has a higher population of over 60-yearolds than the UK average.
Wales reported its third death from coronavirus today, at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.
“I am writing to express my concern about reports of a substantial increase in the population of rural areas as people seek to escape the coronavirus,” Dwyfor-Meirionydd MP Liz Saville Roberts writes in the letter.
“Such a population churn poses a risk in Wales, whose health services are under great pressure already. Wales has around five intensive care beds per 100,000 people, as opposed to the UK average of 6.6 beds per 100,000.”
The letter has also been signed by Ben Lake, MP of Ceredigion, Jonathan Edwards, MP of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and Hywel Williams, MP of Arfon.
Earlier this week Dr Eilir Hughes, a GP in north Wales, said he was “extremely concerned” that there had been a high influx of tourists and second home owners who had arrived in rural areas “with the intention of staying here for the time being”.
“There is evidence that a significant amount of people who own holiday homes and static caravans have decided to travel down under the impression they’d be safe here,” he said.
“We must also consider the age of those travelling into the area. They are often retired meaning they are likely to be of an age which puts them at a greater risk of COVID-19. It is likely they have also increased the viral load within our community.
“We have already been approached by second home owners demanding services within our practices. Indeed, some are here to self-isolate but are seen out and about in cafés and restaurants.
“As a group of practices serving the area, we would urge visitors and second home owners to stay put at their primary residence. We are not sufficiently resourced to deal with this extra demand during what these unprecedented circumstances.”
Last week a senior intensive care consultant has warned Wales is “uniquely at risk” if there is a surge of very sick people with coronavirus.
Dr Jack Parry-Jones said Wales had fewer critical beds than the rest of the UK, and the UK has fewer than many countries in Europe.