Covid-19 report blasts Welsh Government's response to the virus

Credit: PA

A report into Welsh Government's response to Covid-19 has raised questions over whether the administration was complacent in its actions.

The paper, commissioned by Plaid Cymru and compiled by Tro Da global health consultancy, analyses the Welsh Government's actions in the lead up to, and throughout, the pandemic so far.

Among the conclusions of the report is that "by stopping community testing and tracing for COVID 19, Wales lost the ability to understand the spread of COVID 19 and the ability to control it."

The report also says that "The decision to expedite the discharge of acute-care beds in NHS hospitals played a part in ensuring that NHS hospitals had capacity during the rise in cases and through the peak.

"However, those elderly patients who were discharged to care homes without testing or without receiving their results, coupled with the lack of appropriate PPE and guidance within the care homes themselves, undoubtedly led to the care home epidemic and the subsequent loss of life."

Communication from Welsh Government over the virus also comes under fire. The report says "communication has not always been consistent. This is particularly true with regard to testing targets, testing strategy and the associated decision-making processes."

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The report adds that transparency regarding the virus is also essential as it "is paramount if trust is to be maintained amongst the population of Wales."

Plaid Cymru says the report highlights a blind trust in Westminster.

The leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price MS, said: "Wales should have listened to the world, not to Westminster.

“Whilst a future inquiry will judge the true consequences of this Welsh government’s handling of this crisis - including the failure to ensure universal testing of all care home residents and acquire adequate PPE for health and care staff, following Westminster in its so called four-nation approach surely has been one of the main weaknesses of the Welsh Government’s handling."

Mr Price added: "It is only recently, by refusing to ease lockdown restrictions with the R rate still at a dangerously high level, has Wales decided it will lead its own response to the crisis. The results of maintaining the Stay at Home, Stay Local messaging and ensuring our children do not return to school until it is safe to do so, have been markedly better for the health, well-being and trust of our citizens."

The report's author, Dr Camilla Ducker said: "“It is too early to properly understand the impact of all decisions made to date, but it is also clear that certain decisions have led to detrimental effects for people and their communities in Wales.

“The decision to stop community testing and tracing was in contrast to the ‘test, test, test’ message, which was the World Health Organisation’s constant message at the time. By stopping community testing and tracing for COVID 19, Wales lost the ability to understand the spread of COVID 19 and the ability to control it. Between the end of community testing and the beginning of lockdown, a period of a number of days elapsed. During this period community transmission would, of course, have continued unimpeded.

“As plans are made for the next phase of the COVID-19 response, including mitigating the very real risk of a second wave, reflection on these issues should be incorporated."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Our strategy in the initial “delay” phase was for targeted testing of people in care homes, hospitals and symptomatic critical workers. More extensive testing across the broader population was not routinely recommended at this stage, because the majority of people were being asked to stay at home.

“Largely through our own sourcing arrangements, the PPE situation in Wales has stabilised and we are now a net provider of critical PPE items to the other UK nations through mutual aid.”