It’s ‘right to be anxious’ about cross-border spread of ‘Indian variant’, says Drakeford
Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter
The First Minister has said people are “right to be anxious” about the so called ‘Indian variant’ of Covid-19 because of cross-border spread and its “greater transmissibility”.
Speaking during a visit to Llandudno on Thursday Mark Drakeford was responding to a question about a recent rise in cases reported in the Porthmadog aea of Gwynedd.
Forty-nine people have so far been told to self-isolate, including two staff at Aspire Park and Leisure Homes and three pupils at Ysgol Borth y Gest primary school.
Investigations are ongoing to establish which strain of the virus is spreading in the town.
Asked whether he would be worried if the Indian variant was permeating schools, Drakeford said it was inevitable the strain would cross the border and spread from England.
He said: “At the moment there’s only under a hundred cases that I know of – every one of them known to have been managed by local public health teams, including some examples in schools.
“At the moment we feel we’re on top of it. We’re right to be anxious because the spread across the border, the greater transmissibility, we won’t be immune from it in Wales.”
Last week Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board revealed only five cases of the variant had been recorded in the north of Wales, all related to one case of inward travel from abroad.
The concern about the new strain is it’s ability to transmit from host to host more easily than previous strains – up to 50% more communicable according to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
According to the latest figures, there are 6,180 cases of coronavirus in England, 702 in Scotland, 58 in Wales and 19 in Northern Ireland.
Drakeford added: “We’re going to get cases of the Indian variant in Wales, we have them already.
“If this variant is genuinely spreading across the border and doubling every five to seven days, it is inevitably going to come into Wales, so it’s how we deal with it and what the consequences are.”