UK is 'no longer' in a pandemic, Wales' First Minister says

23 April 2021, 20:07

First Minister Mark Drakeford
First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

Wales' First Minister has said the United Kingdom is "no longer" in a pandemic, but "there's no guarantee" that the public health situation will not worsen again.

Mark Drakeford said he agreed with comments from the Covid Infection Survey's chief investigator who said the UK had moved to an "endemic" situation, largely due to the success of the vaccination programme.

Nonetheless, the Covid-19 infection rate seems to be worsening in some areas, and there are increasing concerns over the situation in India.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition, a pandemic is defined by as "the worldwide spread of a new disease", while an endemic infection is restricted to a particular country or area.

Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Government's press briefing that "by its definition, we're no longer at this moment in a pandemic."

Mr Drakeford emphasised that the situation can, however, rapidly change.

He said: "I continue, as I feel I must, just sound a warning sign that this is not a one-way street. The fact that things are getting better does not mean that it inevitably goes on getting better.

"We've just seen in recent weeks how fast things went from being in a good position to a very difficult position in France, in Italy, in Germany.

"Of course we are working very hard to make sure that the current progress is not reversed in Wales.

"But there's no guarantee that unless we carry on doing things carefully, cautiously, step by step, and with the help of the whole Welsh population, that that is bound to be the position."

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Mr Drakeford said: "An endemic disease is still a disease, and it will still require action by government, by the health service, and each and every one of us in our own lives to make sure that the endemic condition doesn't become one that loses lives and puts services at risk."

The latest UK figures report another 40 coronavirus deaths and 2,678 cases. This is compared to 18 deaths and 2,729 cases recorded in yesterday's figures.

These figures also show that the UK has now administered 33,388,637 first doses of a vaccine, up from the 33,257,651 recorded yesterday.

READ MORE: Wales to bring forward some lockdown relaxations by two weeks

These comments come the day after Mr Drakeford announced that Wales would bring forward some lockdown relaxations by two weeks.

Lockdown relaxations will be brought forward from May 17 to May 3. The lifting means that some activities including indoor supervised activities for children will resume, as well as indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults, and the re-opening of community centres.