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“New measures needed to get on top of new variant” Plaid tells Welsh Government

PLAID Cymru Leader Adam Price MS has today urged the Welsh Government to adopt a suite of new measures as Wales’s chief medical and scientific advisors warn that the new so-called Kent variant of Covid-19 is the dominant strain in all parts of Wales.

The measures proposed by Mr Price include making medical-grade masks compulsory for everyone, and more steps to control household transmission.

The latest data from the Coronavirus Infection Survey shows a levelling off in the percentage of the Welsh population testing positive for Covid in recent weeks when it had previously been decreasing.

Citing these figures alongside the “sobering” death toll, Adam Price MS urged Welsh Government to consider adopting the following measures:

· Mandatory medical-grade face masks.

· Increase the level and extend the eligibility of the current Self Isolation Support Grant

· 24/7 hubs for the vaccine rollout, particularly when the younger population starts being inoculated.

· rapid rollout of mass community testing, with a particular focus on workers that cannot work from home.

· Reduce within-household transmission by increasing winter fuel allowance to encourage greater ventilation, offering out-of-home isolation accommodation, and better communication with public on how to prevent transmission within the home.

· Reduce between-household transmission by encouraging food retailers to prioritise homes in isolation for deliveries, arrange vaccinated care workers to look after dependents should unpaid carer in household fall ill with Covid.

· A cash injection into mental health services to enable telehealth consultations to take place virtually from the home. Australia conducted 1 million consultations in just six weeks with $35m additional funding.

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS said:

“With the evidence showing that the more transmissible Kent variant is now the dominant strain in all parts of Wales, the Welsh Government should bring in a suite of new measures in an effort to drive down rates further.

“As the virus mutates and with a sobering death toll, the Welsh Government should be constantly reviewing its approach to responding to the pandemic.

“New measures it should consider introducing immediately including making medical-grade masks which offer greater protection compulsory for everyone. The Welsh Government has already invested £1.5m in Hardshell – the UK’s first medical-grade mask-making facility – so it should be making sure that every resource is optimised to protect public health.

“Having been too slow into lockdown, we can’t be too slow in examining all possible avenues for bringing the new variant under control.

“With this variant being more transmissible, Plaid Cymru wants to see a renewed focus on reducing transmission within and between households. This should include more support for those self-isolating, strengthened public health messages on washing hands and cleaning household surfaces, greater mental health support, and a 24/7 approach to the vaccine rollout.”

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