‘Inevitable’ rise in cases during firebreak as Wales set to come out of lockdown

Support us and go ad-free

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said it was “inevitable” that cases would rise in some areas of the country as it prepares to come out of a firebreak lockdown.

Back to a new normal

A new set of national rules will follow the 17-day lockdown in Wales, which Drakeford said will be easier to follow as he looks to avoid a “reliance” on entirely local measures. It comes after the Welsh government faced calls to extend the lockdown – which ends on Monday 9 November – in the south Wales valleys where the number of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases has risen.

The final week of the country’s lockdown saw more coronavirus patients in Welsh hospitals than there were during the April peak of the first wave. But Drakeford said the increase in cases was “inevitable”. He told Sophie Ridge on Sky on 8 November:

People who were falling ill during the two weeks of the firebreak period were already infectious before the firebreak period began.

We were absolutely certain that we would see those numbers continue to rise during the firebreak period itself.

He said he expected to see the impact of the firebreak and the numbers to decline after 9 November, adding:

That is when we expect the number of people going into hospitals to begin to go into reverse.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)


Earlier this week, Merthyr Tydfil in the south of Wales became the worst-hit area of the UK with 741 cases per 100,000 people. But Drakeford claimed it is the smallest borough in Wales and that “relatively low raw numbers drive quite big percentage and rate numbers”.

To deal with flare-ups in specific areas, he said local restrictions will be implemented in a targeted way to find the cause of cases, such as a factory outbreak. He was adamant not to go back to a “patchwork” of local measures. He said:

We are going to have a new national set of rules that are clearer, more simpler, and therefore easier to follow.

That does not mean, of course, that if there are local flare-ups that local action may not need to be taken but it will not be a reliance on entirely local measures.

He added: “If there are local restrictions, we will target them at the cause of the numbers”.

Giving an example, Drakeford said:

If in Merthyr there are specific reasons, we had for example a factory in Merthyr where there was an outbreak, what we will do instead of taking county-wide measures, we will try to think of more targeted things that we can do to bear down on any cause of local flare-ups.

Christmas approaches

This coming week, Drakeford said the four nations of the UK will meet after being promised by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to “pool ideas, plan together, have a common approach to the Christmas period”.

On whether he wanted to see families reunite over Christmas, he said:

The restrictions people have had to live with are incredibly difficult and demanding, and everybody is tired and fatigued of coronavirus, if we can offer respite over Christmas that is what we would want to do.

He added:

The only way to do that is for us to have that opportunity to meet and talk together.

I really hope the UK Government is serious about this and make certain that those opportunities exist for us all.

On 7 November, Public Health Wales said there were a further 958 cases of coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 59,237. It also reported another 32 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 2,014.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us