Top coronavirus expert warns “firebreak” lockdowns – like the one imposed by Wales – are a “disaster to be avoided”
One month after 17-day lockdown ended, Wales has by far the highest infection rate per 100,000 people in UK
Cases are rising in 19 of country’s 22 areas
A top coronavirus investigator has warned “firebreak” lockdowns are “a disaster to be avoided” as COVID-19 cases in Wales continue to rocket.
Prof Tim Spector, the principal investigator for the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app, said Wales’ case rate shows its short national lockdown spanning late October and early November failed.
One month after the Welsh lockdown ended, the country now has a case rate about three to four times higher than anywhere else in the UK.
The stark difference is demonstrated by this map posted by Prof Spector on Tuesday:
UK cases still slowly dropping today – but Wales now has 3-4 times the rate of new cases of the rest of the country. Looks like the experiment of short lockdowns and releases are a disaster to be avoided. We now need steady policies and advice over the next 3 months – stay ahead! pic.twitter.com/Wp0JhqLQ2a
— Tim Spector (@timspector) December 8, 2020
Two months ago, Wales first minister Mark Drakeford announced a “sharp and deep” 17-day national lockdown between 23 October and 9 November.
Drakeford promised the lockdown, which he labelled a “firebreak”, would be a “short, sharp shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and give us more time”.
By Monday (7 December), however, eight local authority areas in Wales had COVID rates of more than 400 infections per 100,000 people, with cases rising in 19 out of 22 areas.
Wales also had its highest ever number – 1,800 – of COVID-related patients in hospitals.
It came as one director of public health, Swansea Bay’s Dr Keith Reid, warned the area’s health system will be “overwhelmed” without another lockdown.
Since the firebreak lockdown ended a month ago, Wales has tried to respond to a rise in cases by reimposing fresh restrictions.
On Friday, the latest set of tough rules saw hospitality businesses banned from selling alcohol and forced to close at 6pm until 17 December at the earliest.
Watch: Mark Drakeford defends new restrictions for Wales
Health minister Vaughan Gething also said a second firebreak lockdown after Christmas cannot be ruled out.
He said: “Everything is on the table.
“We’re discussing through this week, and we’ll continue to discuss, what measures we need to take.”
Watch: The COVID dos and don’ts of Christmas this year