Wales First Minister confirms 'firebreak' lockdown will not be extended under any circumstance

19 October 2020, 18:11 | Updated: 19 October 2020, 23:46

By Fiona Jones

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed to LBC that the 17 day 'fire break' lockdown will not be extended under any circumstance.

Wales will enter a 'fire break' lockdown in a bid to reduce the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced.

Mr Drakeford said the introduction of a new lockdown would deliver a "short, sharp shock" amid concerns NHS services are already struggling to cope.

The lockdown will last for 17 days, from Friday 23 October at 6pm until Monday 9 November, incorporating the half term holiday.

He told LBC that the decrease of infection "will not work" during the lockdown itself as there will be a time delay for the measures to come into effect.

Mr Drakeford listed some of the measures Wales will take to discern the effect of the lockdown: "In the weeks that follow, we would hope to see the R number, which in Wales is somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4, come down below one.

"We'd hope to see a reduction of the flow of people into our hospitals with 100 people in hospital beds in Wales suffering with coronavirus - it was 500 two weeks ago."

The First Minister confirmed to Eddie Mair that the lockdown period will be brought to a close on 9 November: "It will not be because by the 9 November, everything will be heading in the right direction, there's at least a two week lag between any measure you take and any impact on the spread and the severity of the virus."

Mr Drakeford cited scientific advisers who have said that a two week lockdown, "providing it is deep enough", is the "best chance we have to turn back the tide on the virus."

He hoped this 'fire break' lockdown would be enough to "see us through Christmas", with some elements of Christmas being a natural lockdown due to schools and universities closing and also some businesses.

He added that it is "inherently too uncertain" whether or not Wales will have to lockdown again.

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