Welsh Government ‘surprise’ that Johnson didn’t speak to them before announcing end of Covid isolation measures
A Welsh Government minister has said that he was “surprised” that Boris Johnson didn’t speak to them before announcing at Prime Minister’s Questions this week that Covid isolation measures would be coming to an end in England.
Wales’ Economy Minister Vaughan Gething told Sky News that there had been no conversation between medical experts across the UK about whether it was the right step to take.
He added that Covid case rates were higher in England than in Wales but that the els Government would not look at loosening restrictions on self-isolation until the end of March.
“I was surprised at both the timing and the nature of what the Prime Minister said,” Vaughan Gething said. “At earlier points in the pandemic when significant changes have been made there has been a conversation between health ministers across the UK. A conversation between chief medical officers across the UK. And there’s been advice from SAGE the scientific expert committee.
“None of those things happened before the Prime Minister made his surprise announcement immediately before Prime Minister’s Questions.”
He added that if there had been public health advice that underpinned the announcement made by the Prime Minister, he hadn’t seen it “and the public haven’t seen it”.
“And crucially there hasn’t been a conversation between Chief Medical Officers across the UK to try and come to some form of consensus around why this could be the right thing to do,” he said.
“And in the ONS infection survey I mentioned earlier England saw a slight rise – case rates and Covid infections are higher in England than in Wales as we speak.
“So it is quite surprising because isolating while you’re infectious protects other people. And I can say that when I was isolating, if I had gone out on day three after my first test I would probably have been infectious and I could have harmed other people by passing on the virus.
“That’s why self-isolation measures are important. It’s why we still think it’s the right thing to have them in law as we speak.
“We’ll continue to take advice from the chief medical officer about when is the right time to lift those measures, and the restrictions we know they provide on whether you and I can live our lives.”
The Welsh Government may move to a situation where self-isolation is guidance rather than being mandatory by the end of March, Vaughn Gething added.
“We’re looking at the end of March to see if we’re going to be able to lift the remaining public protection measures at that point,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“So we’ll go through our regular three-week review process, when the government meets again in early March we’ll be able to measure and assess the continued progress of the measures we’re announcing today.
“We’ll look again at our vaccination programme and what’s happening there. We’ll also look at our case rates and the ONS infection survey as well to see if we’re continuing to see stability in Covid case rates. And we’ll then take further advice from scientific advisors and our chief medical officer.
“At that point, the government may be able to set out that at the end of March the remaining measures may go. And at that point, we may move to self-isolation being guidance rather than mandatory.”
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