The governments of the UK should scrap plans to allow households to mix this Christmas, two respected medical journals have urged in a rare joint intervention.
In only their second joint editorial in 100 years, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and Health Service Journal (HSJ) called for a change of tack.
Wales has jointly agreed a five-day relaxation in the Covid-19 rules over Christmas in order to allow people to travel and see extended family.
But Wales is also at present the part of the UK with the highest number of cases per population – a seven-day average of 425 cases per 100,000.
Eight of the UK’s top 10 worst infected areas are in Wales with Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend the top three. On the weekend the number of positive Covid-19 tests passed 100,000 in Wales.
Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the situation across Wales was “very serious” but added it was not Wales’ “preference” to break the Christmas rule relaxation.
“There is a lot of capital invested in that easing of the rules which all four countries signed up to,” he said.
The BMJ and HSJ both warned that hospital bed capacity risked being overwhelmed if there was a Christmas relaxation, calling on the government to “reverse its rash decision to allow household mixing […] in order to bring numbers down in the advance of a likely third wave”.
“Rather than lifting restrictions over Christmas as currently planned, the UK should follow the more cautious examples of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands,” it says.
“This joint editorial is only the second in the more than 100-year histories of the BMJ and HSJ. We are publishing it because we believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives.
“If our political leaders fail to take swift and decisive action, they can no longer claim to be ‘protecting the NHS’.”