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News in brief: Chief Medical Officer voices concerns over quarantine measures

22 Aug 2020 5 minute read
Dr Frank Atherton. Photo by Life Sciences Hub Wales Via YouTube

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales says he is cautious about the further easing of lockdown measures in Wales and has expressed concern about the increase of coronavirus infections around the world and its impact on travellers returning to Wales.

From 4 am this morning travellers returning to Wales from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago must quarantine for 14 days.

Portugal has now been removed from the list of countries under quarantine measures and has been placed on the safe list.

Quarantine measures for Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago have been imposed because of a recent increase in Covid-19 infections.

Over the last 14 days the UK overall recorded 21.2 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The infection rate in Wales is 20.6 over that same period.

In comparison, Croatia had 47.2 cases per 100,000, Austria had 33.0 and Portugal 28.5.

In his review of the latest measures to ease the lockdown, Dr Atherton writes: “Viral transmission appears to remain low and stable in Wales but I remain concerned about the increase in cases in other UK nations, in Europe and in other parts of the world.

“Our recent re-opening of the hospitality sector together with further evidence of transmission within households lead me to believe that we have very little headroom for further easement at the present time.

“I am also concerned that, despite quarantine arrangements, we are seeing a number of cases in returned travellers and I have asked for this issue to be discussed at our Health Protection Advisory Group with a view to formulating recommendations for improved control. In the weeks ahead I anticipate that we are likely to see further outbreaks and clusters of infection which will need to be identified and managed in line with our recently published Coronavirus Control Plan.”

The result of the latest 21-day review of the lockdown measures in Wales, announced by the First Minister yesterday will allow:

  • up to four households to form an extended household to signal expanding the scope of extended households: to include up to four households as part of a single exclusive extended household from 22 August.
  • indoor celebrations for up to 30 people for a wedding, civil partnership, or funeral in premises, subject to reasonable measures set out in guidance from 22 August.
  • for pilots outdoor events for up to 100 people, subject to agreement of, and conditions set by, Welsh Ministers.

The following week will see restrictions eased to allow indoor visits to care home to recommence on 29 August. Casino’s will be able to reopen on the same day.

Public Health Wales has reported one new death due to coronavirus, the first in Wales over the last four days. The total number of deaths now stands at 1,590. 

There have been 34 new cases confirmed, taking the total number of infections to 17,707. 

On Friday 5,021 tests were carried out in Wales.

Photo by skeeze from Pixabay

Shadow Minister concerned by cancer testing times

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies has called for the government to take action to speed up cancer testing and treatment in Wales.

Figures released last week showed a big improvement in the latest set of hospital referral and time-to-treatment figures but Mr Davies observed: “On the face of it, the figures for June look great. An increase of 41 percent for the number of people entering the Single Cancer Pathway1, and an increase of 44 percent for outpatient referrals, for example, but these are just in comparison to the previous month.

“Compare these statistics to June 2019, and they tell a different story. The same waiting times I referred to are down an incredible 27 percent and staggering 39 percent respectively, when compared to last year.

“We’re facing a perfect storm of fewer GP referrals, pauses in screening, and delays and cancellation to diagnostics and treatments. The pandemic will cause more deaths not because people have contracted Covid-19, but because of delays in diagnosing and treating cancer and a range of other conditions.

 “As a matter of urgency, the Health Minister must pull his finger out and detail what he is going to do to address this potential health crisis, and when, starting with the publication of a detailed recovery plan for cancer services and a public information campaign to press home the message that GPs and the NHS in Wales are open for all.”

Photo by Can Pac Swire is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Hundreds banned from trains for not wearing face coverings

Transport for Wales has confirmed that close to 700 people were stopped from travelling on Welsh trains last week for not wearing masks.

The Welsh Government made wearing a face covering mandatory on 27 July and last Monday lifted the essential travel restriction on public transport, opening trains and buses up to more potential passengers.

The essential travel message was introduced to prioritise the travel of key workers, as well as those with no alternative mode of transport during the lockdown.

A total of 681 passengers were refused travel in the last seven day according to the rail operator.

TfW says it is working with British Transport Police to ensure the regulations are followed and both organisations are reminding the public of the importance of wearing face coverings on public transport, stressing failure to do so will see you refused travel and potentially fined.

The requirement to wear a face covering is compulsory on all public transport in Wales, although there are some exceptions such as being unable to wear one because of a physical or mental illness.

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