Coronavirus: “Rolling Closures” will become the norm in Wales

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Could Gwynedd and places like Bangor be next in a local lockdown?

The Chief Medical Officer of Wales said that people in Wales should “prepare” for lockdown trading during the winter months.

Dr. Frank Atherton said Wells may “come in and out of those restrictions over the next few months”.

Local exclusion zones now cover 2.3 million people living in Wales.

The latest numbers are now showing a rise in rates for Gwynedd and Ceredigion, which could put them at risk of facing new restrictions as well.

Public Health Wales recorded 21 new cases of Covid-19 in Gwynnade on Sunday, bringing the weekly infection rate to 47 per 100,000 residents.

Ceredigion now has 32 cases per 100,000 population.

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Aberystwyth University has reported 12 cases of coronavirus among its students

The two counties have reported student-related cases, with face-to-face teaching suspended for some time in Aberystwyth.

Atherton also said it was not “very surprising” to see outbreaks in some university communities.

“We saw that in Swansea and Aberystwyth and recently the same picture in Bangor,” he said.

“Hopefully it will be contained among the students. We don’t want those outbreaks to seep into the general population.”

Currently 15 of the 22 counties in Wales are facing local restrictions of closure.

Gwynedd and Anglesey are the only two authorities in North Wales not subject to local lockdown restrictions.

Yesterday, the Public Health Authority of Wales reported that 432 people had been infected with the Coronavirus, with no further deaths.

Speaking to the BBC’s Iftar program on Radio Wales, Dr. Atherton said he believed the areas would “go in and out” of local lockdown restrictions during the coming winter months.

“I think people need to be prepared for this scenario,” he said.

“We decide if local restrictions are needed, and I suspect we may come in and out of these restrictions over the next few months.

“If the number of cases per 100,000 cases falls over a period of seven days to less than 50 cases per 100,000 cases, then we can start thinking with the local authority, in partnership with it, about lifting the restrictions.

“The worst thing is to lift it early,” he said.

How and when do local lockdowns work?

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Cairville was the first county in Wales to be closed locally

A joint approach is being taken by health officials, the Welsh government and local authorities to assess how, when and where an area might need to cope with additional coronavirus restrictions.

Officials want to know two things – the infection rate and the percentage of positive tests returning in the community.

  • A district will be put on a “watch list” when the cases reach 15 cases per 100,000 residents within a seven-day period. Health officials and local authorities will meet to discuss the situation
  • Amber: When an area reaches about 25 cases per 100,000, and 2.5% of tests are positive, it is considered to be in the warning stage in amber. Officials will want to determine if there is a pattern of cases. Is this an isolated group – or a broader societal transition?
  • Red: As cases approach 50 per 100,000, with a positive test rate of 5%, the region moves to the stage at which active intervention will be considered – such as local lockdown restrictions

One of the key questions for health officials is to define broader community transmission, and the broader risk factors.

For example, infection rates have increased in some communities associated with accidents at meat processing plants in Angeles, Wrexham, and Merthyr Tidfil. However, the source of the infection was known and isolated – and no further local lockdown measures were required.

However, in Caerphilly’s case, no individual group was found, and measures were taken, making it the first council district to face such measures.

In North Wales, while infection rates were lower in places like Conwy, the presence of a much larger elderly population in the local population meant higher health risks, prompting action there.

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