Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services & Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
On 15 December Welsh Government published its four alert levels which sets out what members of the public can expect to experience at each alert level as we continue to deal with coronavirus in Wales. The plan sets out in detail how national measures will be introduced depending on the progress of coronavirus across Wales, including how and when there will be movement between these levels.
The following four levels that have been introduced are:
- Level 1/Low Risk: This represents the level of restriction closest to normality which are possible while infection rates are low and preventative measures in place.
- Level 2/Medium Risk: This includes additional controls to limit the spread of coronavirus. These may be complemented by more targeted local restrictions put in place to manage hotspots or specific incidents or outbreaks.
- Level 3/High Risk: These represent the strictest restrictions short of a firebreak or lockdown. This responds to higher or rising level of infections where local actions are no longer effective in containing the growth of the virus.
- Level 4/Very High Risk: Restrictions at this level would be equivalent to the ‘firebreak’ regulations or lockdown. These could either be deployed as a ‘firebreak’ by doing so in advance, or as an emergency ‘lockdown’ measure if advance notice is not possible
We have agreed a detailed control plan for social care in Wales that will assist social care services and the public in understanding the measures to expect at each level so that they can continue to protect the most vulnerable individuals in Wales.
For each of the levels, all social care staff, and the healthcare staff that support social care services, should be using effective infection prevention measures including social distancing, hand hygiene, correct and appropriate use of PPE. The plan also sets out the testing that should be in place for staff, how to minimise the risk when allowing visitors and external care staff into the home and how visitors and external care staff should managed.
The plan has been developed in collaboration with Local Authorities, Health Boards, PHW and other key stakeholders, ensuring that not only the risks to individuals are minimised but also the rights of individuals are considered when applying measures.
The general approach should be one of local and individual risk assessment, with blanket approaches being avoided and acknowledging the difference in risk for elderly residents compared with the risk to children from COVID-19. The ultimate decision on whether, and in what circumstances care home visits take place rests with the individual provider, and we understand that some providers will find it more challenging to facilitate visits than others. However this guidance is intended to support providers to enable visits to take place, and we expect and encourage providers to facilitate visits wherever possible. More detailed guidance on undertaking risk assessments is under development.
The implementation of recommendations contained within the control plan relating to the routine testing of social care staff that are not currently part of an existing programme is in development and further details will follow.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish us to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns we would be happy to do so.