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Wales raises Alert Level to 5 meaning there is a risk of NHS being ‘overwhelmed’

04 Jan 2021 2 minute read
Coronavirus cases in Wales

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, has said that the Alert Level in Wales will be raised to 5.

He made the decision alongside the Chief Medical Officers of the other parts of the UK.

Level 5 or “red” means there is a “material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed”, compared to Level 4 when transmission of the virus is “high or rising exponentially”.

The Covid-19 alert level refers to the threat of the epidemic and is separate from the seperate tiering systems in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England Medical Director recommend that the UK Alert Level should move from Level 4 to Level 5,” the Chief Medical Officers said in a joint statement.

“Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of COVID patients in hospitals and in intensive care. Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant.

“We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.

“Although the NHS is under immense pressure, significant changes have been made so people can still receive lifesaving treatment. It is absolutely critical that people still come forward for emergency care. If you require non-urgent medical attention, please contact your GP or call NHS111.”

The statement was delivered jointly by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Gregor Smit, the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBrid and NHS England National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis.

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