Cancel Christmas to avoid 'massive cost in January,' says top Covid doctor

Wales should go into lockdown before the festive period and "write Christmas off" to save lives, according to a top Welsh intensive care doctor.

Dr Ami Jones - who is an intensive care consultant with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board - told ITV News that the Christmas coronavirus relaxations and people seeing family over the festive period risked a "massive cost in January."

She said: "There's quite a lot of us who feel like they would rather - as unpopular as it is - have a lockdown now.

"I really worry about Christmas. I really worry about people taking those risks because they want to see family and the implications of all those new bubbles of people mixing and the increase in numbers it will cause.

"We need to do something. I think a lot of us would rather it happen now and we just write Christmas off but I get that it would be massively unpopular."

Dr Ami Jones has warned of a "massive cost" in January if people form new festive bubbles.

Dr Jones has been working on the Covid frontline since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and was among the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccination in Wales.

"I get that everyone's had a tough year, and it's not just the NHS, everybody's had a tough year," she continued.

"It's been a tough year for society, it's been a tough year for the economy and I get why people just want a little bit of happiness.

"I just worry that little bit of happiness is going to have a massive cost in January."

Hospitals in Wales have already had to cancel elective operations to free up beds for coronavirus patients and there have been warnings from front-line staff that the Welsh NHS is at risk of "keeling over" and being "pushed to the limit".

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said members of the public should carefully consider their actions over the festive period as the impact of increased coronavirus cases and deaths would not hit "just one Christmas."

Wales' health minister has called on people to "consider again" the choices they are prepared to make to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Vaughan Gething told a press conference on Monday preventing the NHS in Wales from becoming overwhelmed was "in the hands of each and every one of us".

"If we don't want to see our NHS overwhelmed the way that Spain and Italy were in the first wave, if we don't want those awful choices to be made, that awful footage and reality of undignified care - not just undignified care but the numbers of people who lost their lives - then each of us need to consider again the choices we are prepared to make," he said.

"If we can't make those choices in a different way, then more harm will come and more of us will not make the journey to a better future with a wider availability of the vaccine that will ultimately help us end the pandemic."

Mr Gething said it was not the Welsh Government's preference to change the easing of restrictions over Christmas but added: "if the virus continues to grow, then we'll need to make choices to keep people safe".