Lockdown continues but younger pupils can now return to school

February 19, 2021

Welsh Government has announced some small changes during their third review of the Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions. 

Primary school pupils aged 3 to 7 can now return to school from Monday and rules to allow outdoor excercise have changed so that up to 4 people from a maximum of two households can now meet up in that setting. Some elite athletes can also begin training again. 

At this stage non-essential retail will remain shut and plans for the opening of hospitality and tourism remains off the table until at least the next review in 21 days time.

Licenced wedding ceremonies will now be permitted to conduct services from March 1st but under strict rules. More care home visits will be considered.

New cases of Covid-19 have increased in Wales according to the latest update for Friday. In the last 24 hours another 533 cases have been added, along with sadly 16 deaths.

So far there has been 5,205 deaths in Wales and 200,989 positive cases of the virus.

There has been 105 new cases in North Wales with 26 in Gwynedd, 24 in Flintshire, 16 on Anglesey, 13 in Conwy and 12 in Denbighshire.

Dr Robin Howe, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said:

“Public Health Wales welcomes the indication from Welsh Government that children aged 3-7 in Foundation Phase years in primary schools will be able to return to face-to-face learning from Monday.

“As children return, we would ask all parents and carers to help us control the spread of Coronavirus by:

· Not sending your child to school if they are unwell even if you are not sure if it is coronavirus

· Continuing to work at home if at all possible

· When you take your child to school – always keep your distance from other parents and don’t stay around and chat

· Don’t invite other children (or their parents) to your home to play or stay, even outdoors and even if they are in the same bubble at school

· Unless you have no choice, please do not share a lift to school or other activities with other families

· Make sure your child understands the importance of washing their hands regularly

“Welsh Government have also indicated that the number of people who can meet for exercise will be increased from two to four, and that more elite athletes will be able to return to training.

“Public Health Wales has produced a report analysing inequalities in coverage of COVID-19 vaccination by sex, socioeconomic deprivation and ethnic group.

“Mirroring a trend across the UK the report, which covers the period from 8th December 2020 up to 14th February 2021, highlights emerging inequalities in coverage of COVID-19 vaccination in Wales.

“The report found that the largest inequality in uptake was seen between ethnic groups in adults aged 80+ years. Inequalities were also apparent between adults living in the most and least deprived areas of Wales.

“The full report has been published on the Public Health Wales data dashboard.

“You can now not travel directly to Wales if you’ve visited or passed through a country where travel to the UK is banned in the last 10 days. These banned countries are often called ‘RED list’ (countries where new variant covid strains have been found). You will only be able to enter Wales from RED list countries via a designated port of entry and isolate for 10 days in a nearby managed quarantine hotel. There are no designated ports of entry in Wales.

“For more information on current guidance go to: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-travel.

“Vaccinating the adult population of Wales, to protect people from severe disease, continues at a pace but is a significant task and the vaccine will take time to reach everyone. The effects of the vaccines may not be seen nationally for some time and everyone – including those who have been vaccinated - must continue to follow the advice on keeping Wales safe.

“Although the data currently shows that on an all-Wales level the numbers of cases are reducing and that the incidence is now below 85 cases per 100,000 population, the rates in some areas – particularly in North Wales – are still significantly higher, and there have been small increases in others.

“It is encouraging to see that the numbers of people being treated for Coronavirus in our hospitals is reducing, but there are still a large number of people who are extremely ill, which means that the pressure on services is still very high.

“All of Wales remains in lockdown. We recognise that complying with the restrictions can be challenging, but Coronavirus is still active in our communities and can cause severe illness and death. The reduction in the number of cases does not mean that people can meet people from other households (apart from one person for socially distanced exercise), as this can cause the virus to spread.

“As a nation, we have made so many sacrifices throughout the course of the pandemic that we really don’t want to squander the gains that have been made in recent weeks.

“We encourage everyone, whatever their background, socio-demographic and ethnicity, to have the Coronavirus vaccine when they are offered it. We also stress the importance of seeking information from a trusted source such as Public Health Wales, the Welsh Government, local health board or GP.

“We continue to work to identify and investigate cases of variant Coronavirus in Wales. To date, 17 cases of the South Africa variant have been identified in Wales. Multi-agency investigations continue into three separate cases that do not have clear links to international travel. There are no cases of the variants associated with Brazil.”

“The UK variant of Coronavirus prevalent in many parts of Wales is up to 70 per cent more transmissible, and as reported recently there is evidence which suggests that it may lead to a higher risk of death than the non-variant. Public Health Wales welcomes the recent evidence that the ChadOx1 (AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine Group) vaccine is effective against the UK variant.

“We are aware of a number of increasingly sophisticated ‘scam’ emails in circulation claiming to be from the NHS which purport to offer appointments for vaccination. Coronavirus vaccines currently can’t be bought privately in the UK. Do not share any of your personal information. Correspondence will only come from your health board and your vaccination will be free.

“If you are due to travel out of the UK, please be aware of the changing situation and keep an eye on the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) website for up to date details.

“If you or a member of your household develop a cough, fever or change in sense of taste or smell, you must self-isolate immediately and book a free Coronavirus test, either by calling 119 or by visiting www.gov.wales/getting-tested-coronavirus-covid-19.”