Mark Drakeford warns UK Government not to scrap free Covid tests without discussion
The First Minister has warned the UK Government not to scrap free Covid tests without the say-so of the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Mark Drakeford said that the money was kept back by the Treasury in order to buy tests for all four nations.
“They keep money back from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to buy tests for us all,” Mark Drakeford said. “If they want to move from the present system we need to get around the table and discuss a decision. I don’t think it’s up to them to come to a discussion and then announce it to us.
“We’re well placed at the moment and have a strong supply. The UK Government have done a good job of securing the supply of PCR and lateral flow tests.
“But if the UK government is complementing charging people that should be a decision to be made for us all. There is no piece of paper or agenda item that suggests to me that that is imminent, but that should not be announced by the UK Government without discussion.”
He also rebuffed suggestions that Wales’ ability to set its own Covid restrictions could end when Boris Johnson allows the Coronavirus Act to lapse in March.
“We have used Public Health Act 1984 – that’s where we root measures we have passed in the Senedd,” he said.
“I don’t think the fact that an act may lapse in the UK at the end of March will have a significant ability on our ability to do what we need to do because it is other legislation we have relied upon during this pandemic.”
Mark Drakeford added that they would not be easing restrictions any quicker over the next two weeks as scientists had advised them to keep an eye on the data.
“The arrival of Omicron wave an unpleasant twist in this long-running pandemic,” he said.
“We have to make sure what we’re doing not causing things to move in the wrong direction. The considered stape by step approach has kept Wales safe and we don’t intend to depart from what has been a good approach for us.
“You hear a lot of talk at the moment of people having to live with the virus. But let us remember that 6000 families across Wales are living with the loss of a loved one. For them, there is no easy way to move on and live with coronavirus.
“Sadly the pandemic is not yet over but we can on the basis of what we’ve seen in recent days look forward to the future with renewed hope and better and brighter days ahead of us.”
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