‘Earlier lockdown would have saved lives’ says SAGE scientist

Sir Mark Walport. Picture by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (CC BY 2.0).

SAGE scientist Sir Mark Walport has said that earlier lockdowns would have saved lives, as England spent its first full week under new restrictions.

England, which went into lockdown on Thursday – two weeks after Wales – recorded 478 deaths today, bringing the total to 44,304.

Wales recorded 45 deaths – the highest daily number during the pandemic – bringing the total to 2,108.

Speaking on Channel 4, Mark Walport, England’s former Chief Scientific Advisor, was asked whether the delay to the lockdown had caused more deaths than was necessary.

“If we had locked down, again, a bit earlier there would almost certainly have been fewer deaths,” he said.

He added that it was “absolutely critical that we get those numbers down so that test and trace can start working much more effectively”.

“And the important thing that people have to recognise is that numbers are going up in all parts of the country,” he said.

“So if you look at a comparison between last week and this, the number of people in hospital has gone up in the South-west by 43% in the Southeast by 34% whereas it does seem to be stabilising in the north of the country where of course the numbers are very, very high indeed.”

 

‘No normality’

While the number of daily announced deaths continues to rise in Wales, the number of daily cases are falling.

Public Health Wales (PHW), in its daily update on Wednesday, November 11, announced that 928 more people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 following a lab test.

That is down on a peak of 1,582 when the ‘firebreak’ lockdown began in Wales.

Rhondda Cynon Taf reported the most positive cases in the last 24 hours with 158, followed by Swansea with 91, Cardiff with 82, Caerphilly with 72, Bridgend with 56 and Merthyr Tydfil with 54.

Other local authorities in double figures included Neath Port Talbot with 49, Carmarthenshire with 48, Blaenau Gwent with 35, Newport with 34, Powys with 30, Flintshire with 22, Denbighshire with 20, Wrexham and Torfaen with 16, Pembrokeshire and Vale of Glamorgan with 15, Gwenydd with 13 and Conwy with 10.

Meanwhile, Monmouthshire had 9, Anglesey had 7, and Ceredigion had five.

Dr Giri Shankar, Incident Director for the Covid-19 outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “Public Health Wales strongly advises the public to take personal responsibility for their actions and to ensure that we are all doing as much as possible to limit the transmission of coronavirus.

“We understand that people will want to carry on with their Christmas shopping now the fire-break has ended and so we would suggest to try to visit shops during off-peak times, to always maintain social distancing and to wear a face covering if you can. Options such as ‘click and collect’ or online purchasing may also be something to consider.

“Although the fire-break period in Wales has ended, we would urge everyone to be aware that this does not mean a return to normality. Coronavirus has not gone away, it is still active in communities across Wales, and so we all need to take steps to keep everyone safe and to prevent the transmission of the disease.

“We ask the public to observe the new regulations and to limit their contact with other people as much as possible so that we all work together to bring the numbers of positive cases down.

“This means staying out of other people’s homes, limiting the times and the numbers of people that you meet, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene, working from home if you can, and self-isolating if you show symptoms of coronavirus or are asked to do so by contact tracers.”

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