Three things you need to know from Monday’s Welsh Government coronavirus briefing (June 15, 2020)

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Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford led the Welsh Government briefing on the coronavirus outbreak in Wales on Monday (June 15).

Here is a summary of what he had to say:

  • Testing capacity in Wales is at 12,300 per day.

  • Around 30 tests of over 3,000 given in last 24 hours have been positive.

  • Welsh Government aiming to re-open non-essential shops at next review if headroom allows.

  • First Minister hasn’t spoken to Boris Johnson in almost three weeks.

Testing capacity increases to over 12,000 per day

Speaking at today’s coronavirus briefing at Cathays Park in Cardiff, Mr Drakeford confirmed there now 12,300 tests available every day at testing centres in Wales.

Additional home tests are also available through the UK-wide testing system, he said.

Despite the capacity, he said around 3,000 tests are being provided every day and during the last 24 hours, just over 30 of those were positive.

This is a very different situation to March when cases of the virus were increasing by around 400 each day, he said.

The First Minister said Wales’ falling R-rate is “a sign of success” and will allow the country to make further easements at the upcoming lockdown review this week.

“I want to take maximum advantage of the headroom we have while it remains within the bounds of safe public health practice,” he said.

He said the Welsh Government will only put forward changes that Wales’ chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton has “positively endorsed”.

“That’s the approach we’ve taken at every review and it’s the approach I intend to take at this one as well,” he said.

First Minister defends comments by health minister Vaughan Gething

Mr Drakeford has defended health minister Vaughan Gething who recently said he’d have made “different choices” during the pandemic if he had the knowledge we have today.

“What my colleague was referring to will be the lessons learnt exercise that we will all have to undertake,” the First Minister said.

“It simply would not be realistic to say to everybody that when we look back there wouldn’t be a single thing we’d do differently.”

He said we now know more about the virus, as well as more about how it affects people and how to prevent its spread, he said.

He added that knowing those things three months ago would have “inevitably shaped the decisions we made at the time”.

Mr Drakeford hasn’t spoken to the Prime Minister almost three weeks

Mr Drakeford admitted he has not spoken to the Prime Minister in almost three weeks, despite repeatedly calling for increased conversation during the pandemic.

Responding to a question from WalesOnline, Mr Drakeford said his last conversation with Boris Johnson took place on May 28.

He added: “I have had no discussion with any UK ministers offered in the weeks that have followed and as of today there is no invitation to speak to any UK minister during the rest of this week.”

He said that did not include the Secretary of State for Wales, with whom he has spoken, and it did not mean there was no ministerial contact at all as health minister Vaughan Gething has a weekly call with UK health ministers and those from other devolved administrations.

But he said the “regular, reliable rhythm” of meetings he had sought remained “stop-start”, adding: “I’m afraid we have been in the stop part of that cycle for more than two weeks.”



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