Wales considering three-tier lockdown system set to be announced in England

The Welsh Government is considering introducing the three-tier system due to be unveiled in England, but the health minister has warned it may not be enough to halt the spread of the virus.

The new lockdown measures, due to be announced by the Prime Minister, set out different rules for 'medium', 'high' or 'very high' areas of Covid-19 transmission.

Vaughan Gething said the next two weeks could see infection rates in Wales reach levels not seen since the peak of the virus during the spring, which led to huge strains being placed on health services.

A decision will be made in the coming days, he said, on whether the current local lockdowns are to be maintained or new all-Wales measures could be imposed.

He added restrictions for each tier in England are not clear, adding that tier three measures - which could see guidance against non-essential travel - won't be sufficient to bring the R number below one.

The latest R number for the UK is estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.5, meaning that every 10 people with the virus will go on to infect an average of 12 to 15 others.

"We are going to have to think about additional measures beyond that - just as England are having to consider," Vaughan Gething said.

Boris Johnson is due to unveil a new system of lockdown restrictions on Monday afternoon. Credit: PA Images

Mr Gething also warned of a difficult few months ahead, as the number of Covid-related hospital admissions "rises steadily".

During the press conference, he added that the Welsh Government is still not ruling out a nationwide lockdown for Wales.

Over the weekend, the First Minister made a fresh call to the Prime Minister for travel restrictions on people visiting Wales from English lockdown areas.

But Mark Drakeford has since expressed "deep disappointment" at "inadequate proposals" for such restrictions, following a Cobra meeting chaired by Boris Johnson on Monday morning.

Mr Drakeford told ITV News if an announcement isn't made on the matter, the Welsh Government would look to use its own powers.

"I do not want to scare people, but", said the health minister, Vaughan Gething, 228 days after Wales' first Covid case was confirmed.

If there's one thing to take away from today's update on the pandemic, it's that the situation is deteriorating and, potentially, rapidly.

A look at some of the latest data makes for a sobering read.

  • On March 22nd, the day before the UK's national lockdown, there were 175 people in hospital with Covid

  • On October 4th in Wales, there were 259

  • On March 22nd, the day before the UK's national lockdown, there were 14 on a critical care ward in hospital, with Covid

  • On October 4th in Wales, there were 21.

We forget these statistics at our peril.

The majority of Wales is now under some form of local lockdown, but the direction of travel is clear. Many areas that have been under local restrictions still have high infection rates with more than 100 Covid cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days.

So what next?

The Welsh Government is not ruling out bringing in national measures to slow the spread of the virus. Quarantine restrictions for those travelling from areas with high Covid levels in England, into Wales, are also being widely discussed.Today the health minister also said: "We could see coronavirus infections reach the same level as the spring peak in the next couple of weeks."

The government is already getting its field hospitals - barely touched in the first wave - ready to face the second. Theatres and recovery areas are again being converted into intensive care spaces ready for more cases when, says government, not if they arrive.

"I do not want to scare people, but I do want people to understand that we potentially face a very difficult few months ahead of us."

  • Watch the full press conference with health minister Vaughan Gething: