First Minister urges people to holiday in Wales amid Indian variant ‘concern’
Mark Drakeford has urged people to holiday in Wales this year amid concern about cases of the so called ‘Indian variant’.
The First Minister said people should “take advantage of what Wales has to offer” because he doesn’t want to see Covid-19 being brought back “from other parts of the world”.
The majority of cases of the so called ‘Indian variant’ of that have been detected in Wales are “linked to international travel”, according to the Welsh Government.
It says that it is “closely monitoring the situation”, but that it is not “considering” imposing travel restrictions between Wales and the north-west of England where the cases of the Indian variant are concentrated.
There are now 17 confirmed cases in Wales of B.1.617.2 – one of five mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by UK public health bodies, while there are over 700 in England.
Mark Drakeford revealed earlier on Sky News that some lockdown easing that was planned for Monday in Wales was paused due to the variant.
The First Minister said that he had considered moving on with the reopening of small events but that will be delayed due to the “porous border” between Wales and the north-west of England.
International travel will resume from May 17, however, the Welsh Government advise people to only travel abroad for essential purposes.
It says extra safeguards will be put in place for people returning from some countries to prevent Covid-19 re-entering Wales.
A traffic light system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced, where countries will be classified as green, amber and red.
This means people living in Wales will be able to travel to a small number of foreign destinations without the need to quarantine on their return. Mandatory quarantine for countries not on the green list remains in place.
From Monday 24 May, a paper-based vaccination status will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof.
The First Minister told Capital: “This is the year to take advantage of what Wales has to offer when you go on holiday. We worked so hard to get us where we are today… I don’t want to see that put at risk by Covid-19 being brought back into Wales from other parts of the world”.
A Welsh Government spokesperson told Nation.Cymru: “A small number of cases of the Indian variant of concern have been confirmed in Wales – the majority have been linked to international travel.
“Intensive investigations and robust public health action are taken whenever a variant is identified in Wales.
“We are closely monitoring the situation across the UK, especially in England, where the number of cases of the Indian variant of concern are increasing.
“We are not considering travel restrictions between England and Wales.
“The health impact of the Indian variant is still being assessed, but it is thought to be as transmissible as the Kent variant.
“Currently there is no substantial evidence to suggest the Indian variant of concern will lead to increased severity of disease or hospitalisations, but the data is being kept under constant review.”