First Minister reassures Wrexham – says situation is ‘stable’ & ‘where there have been outbreaks in particular places they’re under control’
The First Minister Mark Drakeford has moved to reassure the people of Wrexham that the situation locally is “being watched carefully” and he is satisfied easements to lockdown can be safely rolled out in the area.
There have been concerns that Wrexham has started to see an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, with figures released by Public Health Wales showing that the county borough recording the highest number of new cases each day for the last week. Today’s figures show +8 new confirmed cases in Wrexham, along with +8 in nearby Denbighshire and +6 in Flintshire. In the last 7 day period Wrexham has seen 49 new cases, with 964 testing episodes – a positive proportion of 5.1%. Outside of North Wales other parts of Wales record a 0-0.8% positive proportion for the same period.
This week saw mobile testing units introduced in Caia Park and Hightown areas, with over 400 people tested on the first day.
Today we asked the First Minister about local concerns, in a week that has seen a Welsh Government Minister and the Chief Medical Officer refer to ‘community transmission‘ in Wrexham.
The First Minister had already indicated earlier today there would be no local lockdown, and easements to regulations in Wales will also apply to Wrexham.
We asked the First Minister about the latest understanding of the issues locally, the depth of the problem and what trends he was seeing. With many also looking to the ZOE datasets and other league-tables of places, we asked where Wrexham is in context to such places.
On Thursday 23rd the JoinZOE app dataset had Wrexham second in a league table, with only Blackburn above us.
The First Minister said: “Our assessment of the position in Wrexham is is that the outbreaks are essentially situation specific. So we’ve been dealing for several weeks with the Rowan Foods outbreak, we believe that is well under control.
“We have another setting at the Wrexham Maelor hospital.
“The Health Minister and I both met with senior staff at that site yesterday to hear about all the measures they are taking to bring that situation back under control.”
“We’re doing more community testing to see whether there has been outward transmission into the community from those two sites.
“At the moment, the evidence is I think that things are stable. There are more cases each day, but the number of new cases is not going up.
“Now, we will continue to monitor carefully, to watch that situation, to see the results of the tests as they come back. If that situation changes, then of course, we will take action in response to it.”
“The positivity rate at Wrexham would put it in the middle of the table right across England, not at the top end of the English table.
“That’s another reason why we feel that we are able to go on offering the wider public of Wrexham the same freedoms as are going to be available to the rest of Wales.”
“I do want just to give an assurance to people who live in that part of Wales that we watch every day, with all the expertise that we can muster, the position in Wrexham.
“We think that it is stable, and where there have been outbreaks in particular places they’re under control. If that were to alter, then we would take the necessary action.”
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We also pointed to our ongoing calls for more open data surrounding the pandemic. This time last week we were told no site specific information would be given out by the Health Board, a position maintained over the weekend, however after a u-turn on Monday the situation at the Maelor Hospital was revealed.
We asked the First Minister if he would send a clear message to those working in health in Wales that information should be open, timely and transparent. We also asked if data he is seeing daily with regards to Wrexham will be made public quickly as well.
The First Minister said: “The information we see is made public through the outbreak control team, I believe they will be making a further public statement this afternoon, and that they will be providing further Wrexham specific figures and information in the statement that they will publish.”
“Yes, I’m happy to repeat that I think that information needs to be provided to people in Wales in a timely way and in a way that people can understand and can be explained so that people draw informed conclusions.
“That’s the way that we will go on responding to the current position in Wrexham.”
The Public Health Wales statement this afternoon has emerged and does not contain any substantively new data or details since yesterday.
It states: “Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Wrexham Council and Public Health Wales are working together to provide easy-access testing at two testing centres in Wrexham.
“If you think you have symptoms – even very mild ones or you’re not sure – please get tested.
“We all have a vital role in preventing the spread of Coronavirus, to help keep Wales safe. We can do this by always observing social distancing guidelines – that’s staying two metres away from others – and washing hands regularly.”
“Focused testing as part of the management of clusters and outbreaks of Coronavirus will inevitably identify new cases, and this does not mean that there has been a significant increase in the level of infection in the community.”
“There are no significant updates since yesterday on the previously reported incidents in Llangefni, Ebbw Vale and Merthyr.”
You can view part of the Q&A session on the below video:
Yn fyw gyda’r Prif Weinidog, Mark Drakeford | Live with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford https://t.co/s284Cc3ZE5
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) July 31, 2020
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