Review of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 - 30th December 2021
First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS has stated (30 December): The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 require a review of the coronavirus protections is undertaken every three weeks. Since the last formal review of the regulations, the Cabinet has moved to a weekly review in response to the rapidly evolving public health situation and the emergence of the omicron variant.
A review has taken place of the public health situation over the Christmas period. It has deteriorated in the last week as the Omicron wave has arrived with a marked rise in cases of coronavirus – the majority are likely to be caused by the omicron variant. This is similar to the position in the rest of the UK. Over the last few days, record numbers of infections have been identified and the overall seven-day case rate has risen to more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people across Wales. Cases are highest among 20 to 29-year-olds and 30 to 39-year-olds with the cases rates increasing in the older age groups.
Hospitalisations remain lower than in previous waves, but these too are starting to increase. The overall COVID-19 bed occupancy has grown by a third over the Christmas period. This is a combination of both omicron and delta cases. The number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospital has also increased to 446 on 29 December. This is 49% higher than the same day last week with a rise in the number of COVID-19 patients needing critical care.
Demand for PCR tests and for lateral flow devices continues to rise and has reached new record levels. Wales moved to alert level two on Boxing Day. The public health situation remains very volatile. Against this background, the outcome of the review is that Cabinet will continue with the current arrangements for alert level two protections in Wales, while continuing to closely monitor the situation. The Health Minister published a written statement on 23 December about reducing the self-isolation period from 10 to seven days, on the basis of two negative lateral flow tests taken on days six and seven, from 5 January. This will be introduced as of the 31 December.
This means people who have tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for seven days. On days six and seven of their self-isolation period they should take lateral flow tests and if these tests – taken 24 hours apart – are positive, they should continue to self-isolate. The Cabinet will continue to review the position in Wales on a weekly basis.