Cautious approach to coronavirus protections to continue
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On 25th March the Welsh Government published the following information
From Monday 28th March face coverings will no longer be required by law in retail settings and on public transport, though they will continue to be recommended on public health advice. The requirement to self-isolate will also move into guidance; the £500 self-isolation payment to support people will continue to be available until June.
However, two key legal protections will remain in place as coronavirus cases have risen sharply in recent weeks, driven by the BA.2 sub-type of the omicron variant.
- Face coverings will remain a legal requirement in health and social care settings.
- Coronavirus risk assessments must continue to be carried out by businesses, with reasonable measures put in place in light of those assessments.
The next 3-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 14 April, when the remaining legal measures will be reviewed.
Dr Frank Atherton, Cheif Medical Officer, published this statement on 25th March 2022:
Community transmission of COVID-19 continues to increase across Wales and the UK. This is likely to be a result of three things; a rise in the sub-variant of Omicron BA.2, waning population immunity, and the recent easing of NPI protections.
Hospitalisation rates are increasing but this is not currently translating into severe pressure on intensive care services or an increase in COVID-19 related deaths. The main risk at present arises from sustained pressure on health services as a consequence of increased numbers of hospitalised COVID-positive patients, increased length of stay, and increased staff absences. We should remain vigilant in our surveillance efforts; indicators to watch closely include ITU admissions, the arrival of new variants of concern, system-wide health/social care pressures, and any increase in all-cause mortality.
As the BA.2-driven wave continues to progress across the UK nations we can anticipate further rises in community infection rates in the coming weeks. The direct impact of this resurgence is unpredictable.
The current uncertainty lends itself to a continuation of our cautious approach and the retention of some alert level zero protections for an additional period of time, will allow for further monitoring and assessment of the impact on the epidemiological picture.
Spring rollout of boosters begins in Wales this week
The latest phase of the vaccination programme will see the over-75s, older care home residents and individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed being invited for their boosters. Children aged 5-to-11 years will also begin being offered their first vaccination from today (15th March) too. This is a precautionary offer to increase their immunity against severe COVID-19 in advance of a potential future wave and to minimise disruption to their education. Most 5-to-11 year old children will be offered two doses of the vaccine, 12 weeks apart. Parents and guardians will need to consent to them having the vaccine.
All those eligible for spring boosters are being encouraged to wait for their invitations from their health board or GP. This comes after Health Minister Eluned Morgan accepted the JCVI advice to give another boost to people who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19. The spring dose is advised around 6 months after the last vaccine dose to maintain high levels of immunity for those deemed the most vulnerable.
First Minister urges people to have their say on the UK-wide COVID-19 Inquiry
The UK Prime Minister has today (10th March) published the draft terms of reference for the inquiry. The Welsh Government, together with the other devolved governments, were consulted ahead of the publication of the draft terms of reference.
The First Minister has said that the Welsh Government has made concerted representations to the Prime Minister to ensure the experiences of people in Wales will be properly and thoroughly reflected in the inquiry. This will ensure decisions made by the Welsh Government and other Welsh public services during the pandemic are properly scrutinised by the inquiry team.
The consultation will be led by the chair of the inquiry Baroness Heather Hallett. The terms of reference have been published on the GOV.UK website.