FROM TODAY, Monday, March 28, it will no longer be the law to wear a face mask in shops or on public transport in Wales.
Self-isolation after a positive coronavirus test will also no longer be legally required from today, however, it is still “strongly advised”.
It is also advised that anyone with symptoms self-isolates, but it is no longer a legal requirement.
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 and coronavirus risk assessments must continue to be carried out by businesses, with reasonable measures put in place considering those assessments.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We have seen an unwelcome rise in coronavirus cases across Wales, mirroring the position in most of the UK.
“We have carefully considered the very latest scientific and medical evidence and we need to keep some legal protections in place for a little while longer, to help keep Wales safe.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have taken a gradual and cautious approach as we have relaxed protections.
“We are firmly on the path towards leaving the emergency response to the pandemic behind us and learning to live with coronavirus safely.”
WALES’ CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER
Community transmission of COVID-19 continues to increase across Wales and the UK.
This is likely to be a result of three things, Wales’ Chief Medical Officer has said: “A rise in the sub-variant of Omicron BA.2, waning population immunity, and the recent easing of NPI protections.”
Dr Frank Atherton said: “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.”
He said: “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. ”
Dr Atherton added: “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.”
DEFENDING THE REMOVAL
Mark Drakeford defended the removal of the mask and self-isolation restrictions amid concerns that people with underlying health conditions will be put at a greater risk.
During a press conference on Friday, he said: “I have more letters from people anxious that protections are being lifted too quickly than I do from people who think we’re going too slowly in Wales.
“I absolutely understand that if you have an underlying health condition, if you’ve been operating your own life very carefully that you are anxious at the thought that you might be re-entering a world where other people no longer take coronavirus seriously.
“It’s why I’ve been at such pains this morning to emphasise the fact that although we will be relying more in future on good advice and strong advice than we are on the law, doing the sensible thing still has to be part of the everyday repertoire of all of us
“We’ve learned all those things, haven’t we so carefully over the last two years, hand hygiene the keeping a respectful distance, wearing a mask.
“We’re going to have to find a way of living safely with coronavirus when we treat it like we do other conditions.
“If you catch the measles you don’t go to work with it, you don’t go out and about with it.
“There’s no law that tells you you’ve got to do that. It’s just that we understand that it would not be the right thing to do to be out there spreading a contagious disease to other people and the same needs to be true about coronavirus as well and
“it’s really important for those people that when they go out, they feel that they are re-entering society in Wales where people are still thinking about them, are still thinking not just what can I do for myself, but how can my actions help to keep other people safe as well.
“We’ve done I think, incredibly well to sustain that way of behaving over the last two years and we need to go on doing it that way.”
- The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 14 April, when the remaining legal measures will be reviewed.
Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June
ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.
A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.
An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.
The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.
Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”
If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.
All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.
It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.
Please check for local arrangements.
Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.
Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.
Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.
“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”
Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.
They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS
Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”
“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”
Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.
The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.
Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre
LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.
In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.
This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.
RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”
“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”
“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”
“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”
“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”
“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”
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