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Would have been ‘difficult’ for Wales to go into lockdown before England, says Health Minister

12 Oct 2021 3 minutes Read
Health Minister Eluned Morgan

It would have been difficult for Wales to go into lockdown before England, the Welsh Government’s Health Minister has suggested.

Eluned Morgan was responding to a damning report by MPs into the UK Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the report, the UK Government’s strategy was to try to manage the situation and in effect achieve herd immunity by infection.

This it said, led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown, and cost thousands of lives. The UK’s failure to do more to stop Covid spreading early in the pandemic was one of the worst ever public health failures, it said.

Morgan said it would have been “extremely difficult” for Wales to go into lockdown before England  for a number of “practical reasons”.

These included the “border” with England as well as Wales not having the power to create its own furlough scheme to protect jobs.

The leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price MS, has called the report “sobering, damning, devastating”.

He also said that the report, which examines the initial UK response to the covid pandemic, only contains 9 mentions of Wales in its 147 pages, showed that it was more important than ever for a “Wales-only public inquiry”.

Eluned Morgan said: “Well you’ll be aware that this particular report is about a 147 pages long. It predominantly refers to the situation in England. Of course it would have been extremely difficult for us to lockdown before England for lots of practical reasons because for example we’ve got the border but also because furlough was not available. So it would have been difficult for us to have gone any time sooner.

“The fact is that we have responded I think very positively since then. Our vaccination programme has been highly successful. We know that has helped to avert around 7,000 deaths and 10,000 hospitalisations.

“So since then I think what you will have understood is that we have taken a far more cautious approach compared to that of the rest of the United Kingdom, but also I understand the report talks about the dangers of centralisation and what we’ve done is try to empower local communities and local authorities to make sure that they really have take advantage of the opportunities that they have to know their local communities and that’s why our TTP system has been not just more successful but also a lot cheaper.”

‘Exposes’ 

Responding to the House of Commons report on lessons learned to date, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS said: “Sobering, damning, devastating. This report exposes the fatalistic approach at the heart of this Westminster Government which led to tens of thousands of lost lives in one of the UK’s worst ever public health failures.

“Too slow to respond, too late to lockdown, and too arrogant to learn from countries with greater expertise, this report must forever put to bed Westminster politicians’ conceited belief that they are somehow unique in the world.

“Meanwhile, with only 9 mentions in the 147-page report, Wales is resigned to the footnotes.

“It is now more important than ever that we get a Wales-only public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic. We cannot settle for a mere chapter in a UK-wide inquiry.

“We need to look at what happened in detail, and in public, to learns lessons for the future – there should be no avoidance of detailed scrutiny.

“The people of Wales – and the bereaved families – will expect and deserve nothing less.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago

When Boris said he was going to delay the arrival of Covid 19 I must admit to being a little perplexed. How was he going to do that? Of course he was busy being an author and a stud and wished to stay in bed to finish both projects…Adam Price is right, no longer must we be a footnote in the history of England !

Dim problem
Dim problem
10 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Wales isn’t a footnote in the history of England. Why do you Nats have such a negative view of our country?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago
Reply to  Dim problem

I don’t, Dim. Quite the opposite…you do have a problem though…

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
9 days ago
Reply to  Dim problem

I think you’ve misunderstood Mab Meirion. It is the English and not us ‘Nats’ (or anti-imperialists as I prefer to think of myself) who have a negative view of Wales. It is the English and not us ‘Nats’ who regard Wales as nothing more than a footnote in the history of England. If you really think that the English respect us and our place in the so-called ‘Union’ then you are deluding yourself. To most English people (and certainly the politicians) we are at best an irrelevance, at worst we are in inconvenience that needs to be removed. And if… Read more »

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
9 days ago

… because the Welsh Government feels under overwhelming political pressure to fall in line with Westminster policies. Devo in name only …

Col W.
Col W.
9 days ago

I’m glad Eluned Morgan mentions the dangers of centralisation and how trusting in local authorities and communities has been successful during the pandemic.

We need to focus on what works. Our communities have the knowledge and the desire to get things done.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
9 days ago

“Wales not having the power to create its own furlough scheme to protect jobs”….thank you Eluned for making the case for Welsh independence for us.

Gareth
Gareth
9 days ago

From this report, with the odd mention of our country, to the tanking, by Public Health England of our vaccines, and the directive of PHE to England based companies to refuse the sale of PPE to anyone outside England, I think it is quite obvious where we stand in the eyes of Westminster. They care little enough for most English, not even wanting to feed hungry children, so we, and the other Celtic nations, as per the report ,are an after thought.

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