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Minister warns of ‘third wave and fourth lockdown this year’

by Mark Fitt Political Journalist
19th Feb 21 11:57 am

The Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned of a “third wave and a fourth lockdown” which will happen this year.

Drakeford said that they are now developing plans on how to prevent a third wave of Covid spreading throughout Wales.

He also warned that they have recorded cases of the new Nigerian variant of the virus and expressed concern of the Kent strain being found in two other cities in England.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Drakeford said, “I hope that this will be the last three weeks of the strict, straight, stay-at-home requirement.

“So if in three weeks time the numbers are still falling, the positivity rate is falling, the R number is below one, hospital pressures continue to reduce, then I hope we’ll be able to move beyond stay at home.

“I think it’s just at the moment too uncertain for me to be able to say whether that will be to a stay local arrangement of the sort we had last year, or whether we will be able to go beyond that.

“Of course our aim is to restore freedoms to people as fast as we’re able to do so but always provided it is safe to do so.

“As well as the good things, the vaccination programme, the falling numbers we’ve also got difficulties as well, we’ve got new variants cropping up, we don’t know the impact that they will have on the circulation of the virus.

“The minute we begin to lift the lockdown, we know the virus will start to circulate again.

“It’s whether we can do that in a way that keeps it under control and creates more capacity for freedoms to be restored, freedoms for families to meet, freedom to begin the first steps of reopening the tourism sector.

“It’ll all have to be done step-by-step, carefully, and in a way that allows us always to review the evidence from any steps we take to make sure we’re not trying to do too many things too quickly.”

Speaking to LBC Radio’s James O’Brien, Drakeford was asked if things will go back to normal this year.

The Welsh First Minister said, “No, I don’t believe so.

“The Chief Medical Officer said to me this week he believes a third wave of coronavirus is baked into what will happen this year.

“And we’re not talking about if there will be a third wave, we’re talking about how we can act to make sure that third wave doesn’t affect us in the way we’ve seen over this autumn and winter.”

Drakeford added that he believes this will “be with us until the rest of this calendar year.”

He said, “Hopefully it will still allow us to go about our lives more normally and that is certainly what we will be working to with our vaccination programme and the other protections we will still need to all go on maintaining.”

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