Coronavirus morning headlines as former adviser says new restrictions needed ‘sooner rather than later’

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These are the coronavirus morning headlines for Saturday, September 19, as cases of the virus continue to rise in Wales.

At a Welsh Government press conference on Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government is keeping the developing situation in Newport and Merthyr Tydfil under close watch, working with the two local authorities and public health experts.

He said cases overall are rising across Wales.

Just last week, Wales had passed the 20 cases per 100,000 people threshold. But on Friday, Mr Drakeford said that rate had likely increased by almost 15 points.

While much of that is being driven by the situation in Caerphilly borough, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the other hotspot areas, increases are taking place in most parts of Wales, he said.

The country’s R number is now estimated to be between 0.7 and 1.2.

According to the latest figures, there are 41 people being treated for coronavirus in hospital in Wales and four people in intensive care.



People queue for a test at Abercynon Leisure Centre on Friday
People queue for a test at Abercynon Leisure Centre on Friday

On Friday, the death of one further person with coronavirus in Wales was reported. It follows the reported deaths of three people on Thursday, marking the first deaths from the virus in September.

A further 185 new lab-confirmed cases of the virus were also reported on, Friday, September 18.

In RCT, the weekly rate of infection has hit 83.7 cases per 100,000 people, followed by Caerphilly at 73.5 cases per 100,000 people.

The news means Caerphilly has shown a sustained improvement from the peak of well over 90 cases for every 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, the rate in Merthyr has jumped again and is now 56.4, compared to 46.4 on Thursday and 39.8 on Wednesday.

In Newport, the seven-day rate is 36.9, down from 39.4 on Thursday and 47.8 cases per 100,000 on Wednesday.

New coronavirus restrictions will be needed ‘sooner rather than later’

Expert epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson has warned that new coronavirus restrictions will be needed “sooner rather than later” if the authorities are to prevent the disease surging again.

Prof Ferguson – whose modelling led to the Government ordering the lockdown in March – said the country was facing a “perfect storm” following the easing of controls over the summer.

“Right now we are at about the levels of infection we were seeing in this country in late February,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“If we leave it another two to four weeks we will be back at levels we were seeing more like mid-March. That’s clearly going to cause deaths because people will be hospitalised.

“I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later.”

He added: “We have in some sense a perfect storm right now of people, as they have been told to, getting back to normal – schools reopening, a surge in cases so therefore the testing system is under strain.

“So unfortunately we do have to roll the relaxation of measures back a little bit and get contacts down in the population.”

Holidaymakers who failed to self-isolate partly responsible for ‘extreme spike’ in Bolton, council leader says

A holidaymaker who did not self-isolate after returning to Bolton in Greater Manchester was partly responsible for the area’s “extreme spike” in coronavirus cases, the council leader has said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh said the area’s high rate had been linked back to pubs in the town and a “cohort of people” who refused to follow guidance.

The Conservative councillor said: “We had somebody who did not adhere to quarantine, did not stay the 14 days, literally went on a pub crawl with a number of mates.

“From that incident which took place over a weekend – (they) visited a number of premises – led to a large number of individual transmissions from that one person which you can imagine then is like holding back the tide because he then became symptomatic two days after they had all gone on this pub crawl.

“He was positive-tested the following day.

“That is four or five days where all the people he was in contact with have been going about their normal day-to-day business.”

It is not known whether the individual mentioned by Mr Greenhalgh was fined for breaching regulations.

Pub worker in hospital as eight members of staff test positive

Eight members of staff at a Wetherspoon pub in Swansea have tested positive for coronavirus with one currently in hospital, the company has confirmed in a statement.

A total of eight people who worker at the Bank Statement in Wind Street have tested positive with a male member of staff “admitted to hospital with a condition believed to have been caused by Covid-19”.



Eight members of staff at the Bank Statement pub in Swansea, pictured here after a 2017 refurbishment, have tested positive for coronavirus
Eight members of staff at the Bank Statement pub in Swansea, pictured here after a 2017 refurbishment, have tested positive for coronavirus

He was asymptomatic prior to attending hospital on Tuesday, a spokesman for pub giant JD Wetherspoon said.

The first affected member of staff tested positive on September 9 and went into self-isolation but since then a further seven staff members have gone on to receive positive test results.

After the first member of staff tested positive four co-workers were also asked to self-isolate having been in close contact with that colleague. Two of those staff members subsequently tested positive for the virus.

Welsh Government ‘confident’ R number is now above one in Wales

The latest estimate of the R number for coronavirus in Wales has increased again but still remains lower than England’s.

In the latest coronavirus briefing on Friday First Minister Mark Drakeford said the R number in Wales is estimated to be between 0.7 and 1.2 and said the Welsh Government was confident the figure was now above one for Wales.

This shows an increase since September 11 when the R number in Wales was estimated to be between 0.7 and 1 – although the Welsh Government did state at the time that it believed the actual R number was higher than this.

There is greater uncertainty in the estimates for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland partly due to the smaller numbers of cases and deaths compared to England. This why the range for Wales is so big.

In Scotland the current range is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.4 – a slight decrease from a figure of between 1.1 and 1.5 last week.

For England the R number is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.4, which is an increase from 1 to 1.2 last week.



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