National lockdown could be weeks away, Welsh health minister warns

Victoria Bell
·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services in the Welsh Assembly Vaughan Gething arrives at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall ahead of a meeting of the Government's emergency committee Cobra to discuss the coronavirus response on March 16, 2020 in London, England. The UK's coronavirus death toll rose to 35 with a total of 1,372 positive tests for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Sunday. on March 16, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething (Getty)

Wales’s health minister Vaughan Gething has warned that a national lockdown could be “weeks away” unless people followed the new rules to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Gething urged people to keep social distancing to save lives as cases continue to rise across the UK.

On Sunday 3,330 more people tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, the highest Sunday rise since May.

Public Health Wales reported 162 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Sunday but no deaths. There were 47 new cases in Caerphilly, south Wales, which went into lockdown last week, and 42 in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The rest of the cases came from Newport, Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil.

PORTH, WALES - SEPTEMBER 10: Children wait for a coronavirus test at Oldway House on September 10, 2020 in Porth, Wales. A temporary walk-in testing centre has opened in Porth  following a cluster of cases in the lower Rhondda area. There are fears that a local lockdown might be introduced should numbers continue to rise. The first local lockdown in Wales was brought in earlier this week in the county of Caerphilly. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Children wait for a coronavirus test at Oldway House in Porth, Wales. (Getty)

Gething told BBC Radio Wales: “We have a number of weeks to be able to get to a position where we can recover some of the ground with a return to effective social distancing, with a return to respecting the rules we have in place to save people’s lives or we will be forced into greater local lockdowns and the potential for another national lockdown.”

At a coronavirus briefing on Monday, the Labour minister said that the country is in a similar situation as it was in early February.

"Cases are rising overall in Wales and we are seeing a deteriorating position beyond our borders,” he said, according to Wales Online.

He said Wales’ Tactical Advisory Cell had warned that “action should be taken now to prevent significant harm or another full lockdown”.

Watch: Yahoo UK’s News Editor, Chris Parsons, explains what a local lockdown is...

Read more: Police won’t start fining people for breaking ‘rule of six law’ yet, government says

“The latest advice from the Technical Advisory Cell, to be published this week, says the pattern of increasing cases is similar to the situation we faced in February.”

"None of us want to see large numbers of seriously ill people in our hospitals again and none of us want to see large numbers of people dying from this virus.”

Taking questions after his speech, Gething said a full national lockdown was "not something I want to return to if we can avoid it but if it's necessary that's what we will do”.

PORTH, WALES - SEPTEMBER 10: A general view of a temporary coronavirus testing centre at the Oldway House Car Park on September 10, 2020 in Porth, Wales. A temporary walk-in testing centre has opened in Porth following a cluster of cases in the lower Rhondda area. There are fears that a local lockdown might be introduced should numbers continue to rise. The first local lockdown in Wales was brought in earlier this week in the county of Caerphilly. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
People queue outside a temporary coronavirus testing centre in Porth. (Getty)

On Monday, new rules came into force meaning that people must wear face coverings in shops and other indoor spaces.

First minister Mark Drakeford said that the rules does not apply to children under the age of 11 but warned that anyone flouting the rules could be fined £1920.

Read more: Lockdown in Caerphilly area will remain until at least October

Wales also must abide by the “rule of six”, which means groups of more than six people are banned from meeting except in specific circumstances as of Monday.

Video: The ‘rule of six’ explained

Gething also warned at the briefing that the government could increase the range of measures it has to take to respond to local outbreaks. These include imposing curfews and restricting alcohol sales.

The minister said that they are seeing a change in the pattern of infection – with more people in the 40s and 50s testing positive.

This could lead to a rise in people being admitted to hospital.

Last week around half of the UK’s positive new cases were diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s but in the past week a significant numbers of cases have also been identified in people in their 40s and 50s.

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