Mark Drakeford gives update on Omicron peak and sanctions in Wales

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that Wales is yet to peak Omicron, despite the infection rate reaching the highest figure at any stage in the pandemic.

Responding to questions about why Wales is operating under Alert Level Two restrictions – stricter measures than other parts of the UK – the First Minister said Wales was “not yet on top” of the latest coronavirus wave.

He said he expected the restrictions to be in place “for as short a time as possible”, but said Wales needed to reach a peak in easing them.

Read more: There is good news from hospitals in Wales, despite the massive increase in the number of Kovid patients

He told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday: “There’s a little bit of good news in that the modeling we have shows a very sharp increase in omicron cases,” he said.

“We’re not at the top of that wave yet, but once we get to the top, modeling shows a relatively rapid decline from that peak as well.

“As we get past the peak and see the situation improving, of course we would like to return to a more modest level of safety a few weeks ago.

“We hope the level of protection we currently have will be sufficient to mitigate the impact of Omicron to help our NHS cope with the surprising pressures it has to deal with every day.”

At a Welsh government press conference on Friday, Mr Drakeford indicated that Level 2 COVID restrictions in Wales would remain in place for several weeks.

Speaking at the latest coronavirus briefing, after the latest review announced that it would remain in place, he said the peak of the omicron wave was still 10 days to two weeks away.

Asked when the restrictions will be lifted, he told the latest coronavirus briefing on Friday (January 7): “The situation for the next 10 days to two weeks is not something that will ease.

“The numbers are likely to continue to rise. So, it will not be until we have passed the peak of infection, and we are sure that we can see that the pressure from the spread of this virus in the community will ease.” I don’t anticipate that in the next fortnight we will be able to get away from the restrictions that are currently in place.

“We will be monitoring this every week, and when we see that the corner is being turned, the numbers are coming down rapidly, that is the point at which we will be able to assess when to lift additional restrictions. is safe.”

He said: “It will take some time because it always helps to reduce the pressure on health services, hospital services, critical care services.

The alert level requires two people:

  • Wear a face covering (unless there is a reasonable excuse not to wear it) in all indoor public places, including sitting in pubs, cafes or restaurants.
  • Meet more than five other people in a cafe, restaurant, pub, or other public premises (unless they have a large number in their home). This applies to both outdoor and indoor areas of the premises.
  • If possible, work from home.
  • If they test positive for Covid-19, self-isolate for seven days. People should do lateral flow test on the sixth and seventh day. If either test is positive, they should remain in isolation until two negative lateral flow tests or after 10 days, whichever is earlier.
  • Do not participate in organized events indoors for more than 30 people or outdoors for more than 50 people. All organized events should be conducted by a responsible body and have a risk assessment.

“So, I do not anticipate that over the next fortnight we will be in a position to move away from the level of restrictions we currently have, but we will track it every day.

“We will review it every week and when we see that corner is turning and we can look at the numbers because we expect it to be coming down fairly quickly, that will be the point at which we can assess that. When it’s safe to start remove the additional restrictions and protections we’ve put in place so far.”

Speaking to Sky on Sunday (9 January), the First Minister also defended his recent remarks that the UK government was “outsider” in not introducing further coronavirus restrictions.

He told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday: “I get asked time and again why Wales is not doing the same thing as England?

“My answer was to point out that in this debate it is not Wales that stands out.

“Wales Scotland is following the same path of security that is being followed by Northern Ireland, and not only developed governments in the UK, but governments across Europe and around the world.

“The question as to why the UK government has decided not to follow that action is for them to answer, not for me.

“I think they haven’t done what science would have told them they should.

“But it is the decision for them to answer – I am accountable for the decisions we make here in Wales.”

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