Drakeford ‘frustrated’ at new variant after urging UK Gov to clamp down on international travel
Mark Drakeford has said that people were “right to feel frustrated” over the spread of the new more transmissible Covid variant after he had urged the UK Government to clamp down on international travel.
He added that there was an “inevitability” that Wales would see the new ‘Delta’ variant spreading over the border.
“And given what we know about the transmissibility of that new variant and the fact that we are seeing signs that it does translate into higher numbers of people coming into hospitals, we continue to take a cautious approach to lifting restrictions here in Wales,” he said.
He was asked by Richard Madeley on ITV News how “frustrated” he was that Wales had been put in that position.
“We were talking to the programme doctor a few minutes ago and he said unambiguously that we could have stopped this,” Richard Madeley said. “It didn’t have to be this way.
“We could have closed our borders to people coming in from India weeks and weeks and weeks before we did because we knew what was going on out there – it was all over the nightly news. And yet we didn’t, and here we are. Does that make you feel as frustrated as, I think, most people feel?”
Mark Drakeford replied: “No I think we’re right to feel frustrated. We have constantly urged the United Kingdom Government to take a precautionary approach to international travel. Not to wait until a problem occurs and not to then try to slam the door after that horse has long bolted.
“But the UK Government has persisted really in an approach which is to do the least they think they need to do, rather than as I think we would have preferred, doing the most that was necessary.”
The First Minister was speaking after announcing a slower than expected relaxing of lockdown restrictions so that more people can be fully vaccinated against Covid before a new variant potentially spreads throughout Wales.
The move comes as 97 cases of what is now known as the Delta (formerly Indian) variant have been discovered in Wales, with 39 just cases in the last week, including a cluster in Conwy.
As a result of concerns about the spread of this more transmissible variant, the move to alert level one will be “phased”, with outdoor events opening first on Monday.
“The two-stage approach will enable more people to be vaccinated – and complete their two-dose course – amid growing concerns about the spread of the delta variant of the virus across the UK,” the Welsh Government said.
Ministers will review the public health situation again, ahead of June 21, to determine whether indoor events can restart.