News in brief: Minister warns of dangers posed by PM’s plans to reopen international travel
Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething is urging the UK government to remain cautious, following confirmation yesterday that it is preparing to open up some foreign travel in England from 17 May.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was important to be cautious and indicated further details would be announced later in the week.
The all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus of more than 60 MPs and peers said the government should discourage people from travelling abroad unless it was essential and last week Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton warned of the “considerable risk in the too rapid reinstatement of non-essential international travel” adding that this would “pose the threats of re-seeding of infection and of the introduction of new vaccine-resistant variants.”
Mr Gething told BBC Politics Live there was “nervousness about significantly liberalising international travel in the middle of May” amongst all four governments in the UK.
“The reality is, we know last summer we reimported coronavirus into all parts of UK with foreign travel.
“The risks are not just about Covid case rates increasing again but of the new variants of coronavirus that are circulating in Europe and other parts of the world, and those may potentially escape the vaccination response.
“I understand it’s difficult, but it’s the right thing to do to be cautious and avoid the potential harm that could come if we do have coronavirus imported.
“Because if international travel starts in England, it affects all other part of the UK as well.”
An announcement on which countries would be open for quarantine-free travel from England could be made as early as Friday.
Deaths in Wales remain below average for the eight successive week
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have confirmed the number of deaths in Wales has remained below the five-year average for the eighth successive week.
According to the ONS there were just 14 deaths involving Covid-19 for the week ending on 23 April, the same as the previous week and the lowest for seven months.
The number of deaths registered from all causes was 616, 28 fewer than in the previous week and 6.8% below the five-year average (45 deaths fewer).
Twelve local authority areas had no deaths registered involving Covid, and across the country just 2.3% of all deaths registered mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.
Since the start of the pandemic in March last year, 43,044 deaths have been registered in Wales and of these, 7,860 deaths (18.3%) mentioned Covid – 5,645 deaths above the five-year average.
Deaths counted by the ONS are when Covid-19 is mentioned by doctors on the death certificate and which occur in all settings – including hospitals, care homes, hospices and people’s homes.
The daily figures released by Public Health Wales only include the deaths of a hospital patients or care home resident where Covid-19 has been confirmed with a positive laboratory test and the clinician suspects this was a causative factor in the death.
According to today’s figured from PHW, there have been no further deaths due to Covid and just 54 new cases of the virus in the 48 hours from 9am on Sunday to 9am yesterday.
PHW calculates there have been 5,551 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
There were no new cases reported in six of 22 local authorities and Cardiff with just seven, recorded the highest number of new infections over the 48 hours covered.
Newport continues to have the highest weekly case rate in Wales at 23.3 per 100,000 people, down from 29.7 yesterday and the positive test rate at 2.2 % per 100,000 tests is also the highest in Wales but is down .5% since Thursday.
The national weekly case rate is down from has fallen from 10.3 to 9.5, the first time it has dropped into single figures since 23 April last year and the test rate has fallen from 1.1 % to 1.0% since yesterday’s report.
Greens remain hopeful of first Senedd seat
Going into the final hours of the Senedd election campaign Wales Green Party says they believe they could be close to getting their first seat in the Senedd.
Having run their biggest campaign yet in Wales, the party is in contention for the fourth regional list seat in Mid and West Wales, South Wales Central and South Wales East – but all across the regions the races look very tight between the Greens, Abolish the Welsh Assembly and the Conservatives for the fourth spot.
With Labour mathematically unable to win seats on the regional ballot in all of South Wales if the constituency results are as pollsters predict, Wales Green Party’s leader Anthony Slaughter has called for voters to lend their regional vote to the Green Party, to ensure the fourth regional seat is taken by a candidate who will work constructively for Wales.
Slaughter – also lead list candidate for South Wales Central, is one of the candidates who could be elected in this week’s election.
He said: “We have said Greens can win the whole way through our campaign, and the data is showing we’re so very close. However, we can’t do it without your vote.”
“We are hearing on the doorstep from first time Green voters, they are lending us their regional ballot because they like what we stand for and they want to vote to keep out Abolish. With Labour unable to win on this ballot in much of Wales, it is vital people who want a progressive voice representing them vote Green”.
The Green Party of England and Wales’ Deputy Leader Amelia Womack is also hoping to win a seat for South Wales East on Thursday. She said “It is long overdue that we in Wales get the Green scrutiny in the Senedd that we deserve. We can see across the UK and beyond the monumental difference Greens make when elected, holding government to account.”