Notices

COVID-19 RECOVERY: WCBC BRIEFING NOTE, 29th OCTOBER 2021

Rates of coronavirus in Wales are currently the highest in the UK.

Please find below the messages that will be shared by First Minister Mark Drakeford  today to say alert level zero protective measures will be strengthened to keep people safe and help reduce high levels of coronavirus in Wales.

The First Minister will say Wales is facing a serious situation and that unless rates begin to fall over the next three weeks, Ministers will have to consider reintroducing some restrictions at the next review to bring the spread of the virus under control.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“Over the past three weeks, coronavirus cases have risen sharply to the highest rates we have seen since the pandemic began and more people are falling so seriously ill that they need hospital treatment.

“All this means that the pandemic is far from over. We need to take more action

“We hope this action will help to turn the tide of this delta. None of us wants to see a return to restrictions but if rates continue to rise, the Cabinet will have no choice but to consider raising the alert level at the next review.

“Let’s all work together as a team to reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep Wales open and keep Wales safe.”

The guidance around self-isolation is changing. Adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people aged five to 17 will be asked to self-isolate until they have received a negative PCR test if someone in their household has symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19.

People who are not vaccinated will still have to self-isolate for 10 days following contact with someone who has tested positive, including close contacts outside of their household.

And, while coronavirus cases remain very high, the Welsh Government intends to extend the use of COVID Pass to theatres, cinemas and concert halls from 15 November. These are settings where large numbers of people gather indoors, close to each other, for long periods at a time.

Vaccines remain the best defence against the virus – almost 400,000 people have had their autumn booster since the programme was launched and more than 40% of 12 to 15-year-olds have had their vaccine.

The four UK chief medical officers have asked the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation for urgent advice about reducing the interval between the second dose of the vaccine and the booster.

The Welsh Government continues to encourage everyone to work from home wherever possible and to remind everyone of the legal requirement to wear a face covering in indoor public places.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething yesterday met with retailers to urge them to do everything they can to raise awareness of the legal requirement to wear a face coverings in shops.

 DATA ON THE VIRUS

 TABLE 1: Covid-19 in the County Borough as a whole compared to other Councils in North Wales

Comment

 

LEARNING TO LIVE WITH COVID IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM PRETENDING IT DOESN’T EXIST ANYMORE!

 

  • 83 new cases were reported in Wrexham today. The latest 7-day rate for new cases is 6/ 100,000 population, which is only slightly better than the 399.4/100k reported two weeks ago.
  • Positivity (the indicator of community transmission) is 8%, up from 15.6% two weeks ago and from 17.2% four weeks ago.
  • Wrexham has improved to 22nd (least) in Wales for cases per 100k population, compared to 18th two weeks ago, and 20st for positivity, compared to 14th two weeks ago.
  • The Delta variant accounts for 100% of cases, with community transmission in households, then schools, then social contacts and finally work contacts being the driver of infection.
  • The highest rates of infection are amongst the under 20s. This is because they are the least vaccinated and are having the most social contact. This is followed, effectively, by their parents.
  • Hospital admissions and deaths remain low compared to Waves 1 and 2, supporting the view that the vaccine is highly effective against the Delta variant. In fact, there is a very much higher chance of being admitted to hospital if someone has not been vaccinated.
  • These data show that the virus is reducing in north Wales and is less harmful than last winter, but that it has definitely not gone away. In Wales as a whole, rates are amongst the highest they have ever been.
  • VACCINATION is the only way out of this, for which there is an added incentive, given the need under the Level 0 Covid Regulations for Covid Passes for entry to certain events. There is strong evidence, from Israel, that the BOOSTER JAB is crucial for reducing the severity of the disease, hospitalisation and death.
  • Today, the First Minister has announced that Level 0 (working from home where possible, wearing masks, washing your hands, Covid Passes, etc.) will remain in place for a further 3 weeks, but with:
    • an expansion in the use of Covid Passes, from 15th November, to include cinemas, theatres and concert halls
    • a change to self-isolation rules (those who have not had the double jab will have to self-isolate for 10 days; those who have had the double jab will only have to self-isolate until they have had a negative PCR test result)
  • Welsh Government will be issuing a schools Covid toolkit
  • If rates of infection worsen, more national restrictions will be put in place at the next review in three weeks, possibly including a move back to Level 1 alert.

TABLE 2: Covid-19 in the Sub-Areas of Wrexham (18 MSOA areas used by PHW in its Tableau)

 

Comment

  • All of the 18 sub-areas of Wrexham remain ‘hotspots’ with more than 100 cases/100,000 population, which has been the case for several months. This confirms that there continues to be widespread community transmission throughout the County Borough.
  • 4 of the sub-areas have more than 400/100k, whereas 9 had two weeks ago and 10 four weeks ago, showing an improvement.
  • 13 of the sub-areas have seen an improvement since two weeks ago, meaning that 6 have got worse. This compares to 9 and 9, respectively, two weeks ago, showing an improvement.
  • While 17 of the sub-areas saw a peak in cases in January 2021, the Bangor-in-Dee, Overton and Penley sub-area has, this week, seen its highest rate per 100k population since the pandemic began (1038/100k), though it has fallen slightly, today (to 888/100k). This is a doubling over the last two weeks and a tripling over the last three weeks. This is associated, firstly, with school-age children and, secondly, with their parents – there being a cluster of schools in this sub-area – and is a reminder that Coivd-19 has definitely not gone away in Wrexham.
  • As stated above, the only way out of this is VACCINATION, including BOOSTER JABS.

SCHOOLS

  • Head teachers will be given extra support to quickly put measures in place in their schools if case rates are high locally.
  • Staff and secondary school students will also be encouraged to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests to help keep coronavirus out of schools.

KEY MESSAGES

At the present time we need to make clear to all members of the public that learning to live with Covid is very different to carrying on regardless of its existence.

The first minister’s announcement today will make sobering and stark reading, and our recovery from Covid depends on our ability to navigate the coming weeks and months safely. The simplest thing people can do is wear a mask, keep their distance and wash their hands.

Our efforts now will continue to influence the freedoms we have as we approach the festive period.