Warning that self isolation must continue even when Covid restrictions end
Public Health Wales has warned that people should continue to isolate if they have Covid symptoms and use face masks even when legal restrictions are lifted.
Speaking on today’s BBC Wales Sunday Supplement, Dr Giri Shankar, Lead for Health Protection PHW warned of the “risk that people might confuse the ending of legal restrictions as the same as the ending of medical requirements”.
He said that if symptomatic or testing positive, people should still self-isolate, and emphasised the continued need for vaccinations and handwashing.
His comments come as the ONS reveals that 125,400 – 4.13% of the Welsh population – were believed to have the virus on 12 March, an increase of almost 30% from the the 97,000 recorded the previous week.
Dr Shankar said: “It is about shifting the responsibility for individual customised protective behaviours.
“As a baseline measure, we still think a number of those measures should still continue such as hand hygiene, compliance with vaccination where possible, adhering to face coverings, and most importantly, when people have symptoms, they should still come forward and take a test.”
He added that even without a legal mandate requiring it, “If they are symptomatic or test positive, they should still continue to self-isolate”.
All legal measures to control the spread of Covid will be removed in Wales on 28 March if the public health situation is stable.
It means masks will no longer be legally required in shops, public transport, hairdressers, salons and health and social care, and people with Covid will no longer be required to self-isolate for five days.
At the beginning of March, First Minister Mr Drakeford said he did not expect to see “a sudden cliff edge” in people not wearing masks.
He said: “I think that while the legal requirement we hope will be lifted on the 28 March, the need to go on doing the right thing, particularly in vulnerable places likes care homes and hospitals, will not have any date”, he added.
Also from 28 March, people with symptoms will no longer be able to get PCR tests, and free lateral flow tests (LFTs) will end from June, although PCR tests will be kept for certain groups, such as health and social care staff with symptoms and care home residents, and hospital patients.
Earlier in March, Dr Frank Atherton, Wales’ Chief Medical Officer stressed the importance of maintaining sufficient Covid testing capacity despite the continued easing of restrictions to control the spread of the virus.
The British Medical Association warned that ending free testing would make it much harder to monitor the spread of the virus and identify new variants.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.