Cobra meeting must be called for lockdown review, Wales’ First Minister says

The United Kingdom’s four governments must meet for an urgent Cobra meeting to review Covid-19 lockdown measures, Mark Drakeford has said.

The First Minister of Wales said it was important all four nations to decide whether to extend the current lockdown while Boris Johnson remains in hospital receiving treatment for persistent coronavirus symptoms.

On Monday Mr Drakeford told Wales’ daily coronavirus briefing he wished the Prime Minister a “speedy recovery”, but stressed measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 should now be reviewed as the current three-week lockdown nears its end.

Public Health Wales said 27 more people have died in the country after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the number of deaths in Wales to 193, while the number of people who tested positive for the disease rose by 302 to 3,499.

Mr Drakeford said: “As we reach this two-week point it is very important, I believe, that Cobra now meets again to review the regulations as we are required to do, and to make a decision about what happens next.

“It’s important that the four governments of the UK come together to consider the evidence and to decide the best way forward together.”

Asked if he would advocate an extension of the current lockdown, Mr Drakeford said it would be “foolish” to remove the current constraints after “the enormous effort everyone has made” during the period.

“I think the lockdown will need to continue beyond Easter Tuesday.

“That’s when the three weeks formally comes to an end,” he said.

“We will look at the scientific and medical evidence.

“But everything suggests to me a further period of restraint will be necessary.”

Mr Drakeford said he hoped Mr Johnson’s stay in hospital would be “as short as necessary” as he undergoes tests for coronavirus symptoms.

Mr Drakeford said: “I wrote to the Prime Minister on Thursday of the week before last as soon as he fell ill, wishing him a speedy recovery, and want to repeat that today.

“I hope his stay in hospital will be as short as necessary and that he will soon be on the road to recovery.”

Asked if Mr Johnson should continue to lead the UK while he is in hospital, Mr Drakeford said: “I’m sure the Prime Minister will be following advice.

“If the advice from his doctors is he needs to change his working pattern in order to get better, I’m sure he will do that.”

Mr Drakeford said Wales would have 7,000 more hospital beds, twice the normal capacity, while critical care capacity had doubled and more than a thousand extra ventilators were “on their way”.

He said a testing centre for up to 200 frontline workers including police and care home staff would open at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday, and would first be offered to people working in Wales’ worst hit area, Gwent.

Mr Drakeford warned Wales had yet to reach its peak of Covid-19 cases, saying “things are likely to get worse before they get better” despite “some signs” current lockdown measures were working.

Earlier Wales’ chief medical officer, Frank Atherton, told BBC Radio Wales the stay-at-home message had “flattened the curve” of the spread of coronavirus, and that the peak could come sooner than had previously been anticipated.

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