Coronavirus stay at home message 'needs to be loud and clear'

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Adam Price MSImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Adam Price said the priority should be to reduce the number of avoidable deaths to zero

Plaid Cymru has called for Wales to send a stay at home message "loudly and clearly" to save lives.

The party's leader Adam Price wants Wales to adopt strict New Zealand-style approaches for driving down cases and avoidable coronavirus deaths.

His seven-point plan includes suppressing new cases and a strategy for dealing with clusters of cases in care homes.

The Welsh Government announced "modest" changes to the lockdown on Friday.

New Zealand says it has stopped community transmission of Covid-19 after a stringent lockdown, including tough restrictions on travel and social interaction and an extensive testing and contact tracing operation.

Mr Price urged Wales to adopt a similar approach to drive down the so-called 'R' number, which looks at the rate of transmission of cases by individuals.

He said that once Wales had successfully suppressed cases then a "more local" approach could be adopted, but still with the ability to reimpose lockdown if needed.

Mr Price said while the rate of Covid-19 transmission was still "startlingly high", the message to stay at home and save lives should be sent "loudly and clearly".

"This is the only way to save lives," he added. "By respecting the lockdown, we will recover faster."

It is believed he will announce a new Covid alert system in England, which will rank the virus threat on a scale from one to five and adjust according to data such as the rate of transmission and number of cases.

The Plaid leader said if Mr Johnson decided to relax the lockdown in England, then travel restrictions imposed within Wales and between Wales and other parts of the UK might be needed to avoid a "potentially disastrous impact" on Welsh communities.

'Very smallest'

He said the Welsh approach required Welsh ministers to "change gear, abandon the excuses and honour the promises to ramp up testing and tracing".

The seven-point plan involves:

  • Staying in lockdown, saying leaving early "would be bad for Wales"
  • Enable Wales to be able to restrict travel and residency
  • Driving down the rate of transmission below 0.5
  • Full test and trace needs to be ready by end of the next three weeks
  • A specific strategy to drive down clusters of cases in care homes - and a universal testing policy
  • A more local, flexible approach once cases have been successfully suppressed
  • Current levels of financial support should be maintained in nations that need it.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said only the "very smallest and most modest steps" could be taken to ease the lockdown because a small increase in the reproduction rate of the virus would lead to a significant increase in deaths.

He warned that if the 'R' number rose to just 1.1 from its current rate of 0.8 "we would see 7,200" deaths.

He also said the Welsh Government was "working very hard" to increase coronavirus testing capacity in the community over the next three weeks.