Advice presented to First Minister on 21 day review of COVID-19 restrictions.
I note the minor changes to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
Community transmission of COVID-19 in Wales appears to be increasing and is likely to increase further when school and university teaching resumes. The high vaccination rates have contributed to weakening the link between recorded infections and the serious effects of the disease, as evidenced by comparatively low numbers of people admitted daily to hospital with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
However, there remains considerable uncertainty for the months ahead. The impact of relaxations during the summer, with increased social mixing at Alert level 0, are reflected in rising numbers of cases and test positivity in all areas of Wales, albeit at a slower pace compared to previous waves. We must continue to monitor the position very closely, not least given the broader pressures currently being experienced across the health and care system.
Vaccination is one of the most effective ways we can protect our families, communities and ourselves against COVID-19. The vaccination programme is now focused on boosting take up of first and second doses for all adults and encouraging younger cohorts to come forward. In addition NHS Wales has begun vaccinating children aged 12-17 who are deemed clinically at risk, and planning continues for an autumn booster programme.
Influenza vaccination is also an important priority to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with influenza and to reduce hospitalisations when the NHS and social care system may be managing winter outbreaks of COVID-19.
Now is not the time to be complacent. The virus is still circulating and there is always a risk of new variants emerging. It is incumbent on all of us to practice the healthy behaviours which limit the spread of COVID-19:
- being fully vaccinated
- self-isolating when symptomatic and getting tested
- observing good hand and respiratory hygiene
- limiting contacts and staying in outdoor settings where possible
- keeping indoor environments well ventilated
- wearing a face covering in certain indoor public places and public transport
- working from home whenever we can
Dr Frank Atherton
Chief Medical Officer