ONS stats showing lower infections in Wales than England ‘thoroughly justifies’ our restrictions, Mark Drakeford says
ONS survey stats showing a lower infection rate in Wales than England demonstrate that restrictions imposed on Boxing Day worked, the First Minister has said.
He pointed to statistics showing that the number of people with Covid was lower in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland than England.
He said the restrictions had served as a “mini-firebreak” that “flattened the curve”.
“The rise in Wales has been smaller than the rise in England,” he said. “The rise in cases in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland where restrictions have been in place are lower than in England.
“And the Welsh line is the only one to show that infections are slowing down.
“The ONS slide shows that the changes in Wales were necessary. The line in England is rising and continuing to rise. That gap between Wales and England means thousands of more people falling ill and in hospital.
“It’s a real gap making an impact in real people’s lives. It thoroughly justifies action that we have taken.”
The Welsh Government have come under sustained criticism by Conservatives for imposing restrictions over the New Year, while England did not introduce new restrictions.
Mark Drakeford said that cases were now falling, based on PCR case rates, waste water tests and ONS surveys. But he said there was a “note of caution” about PCR tests.
“A change of testing rules means that people no longer need a positive PCR test if they have a positive Lateral Flow Test,” he said.
“The fall in cases began to happen a few days before the change to those rules. Andd the positivity rate has been falling itself.
“We’ve also looked at a wider range of indicators – wastewater studies also suggest that the extremely high levels of infection in the community are starting to slow down and come down. We can look as well at the ONS infection survey.
“Today we are in the optimistic place of being able to take those first steps back to alert level zero.”
Mark Drakeford was asked whether the model got it wrong because it showed a later peak in Omicron cases.
“I don’t think the model was wrong in essence because it has shown a rapid rise and a rapid decline,” he said. “We have seen the peak a bit earlier than the model predicted.
“But the changes we are making are exactly two weeks on from last Friday, exactly as the model suggested.”