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Welsh First Minister FURY as ‘selfishness’ could make NHS ‘National Coronavirus Service’

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Mark Drakeford has described the situation with coronavirus in Wales as “extremely serious”. Wales and Scotland have introduced tougher measures for the Christmas period compared to England after Boris Johnson was urged to revise plans by two leading medical journals.

Government guidance for England from December 23 to 27 enables families in three households to form a Christmas bubble.

There is no limit on the number of people who can join a bubble, although guidance says it should be “as small as possible”.

But in Wales only two households will be able to mix for the period, with another lockdown commencing on December 28.

Mr Drakeford, appearing on BBC Newsnight, said he doesn’t think coronavirus is “out of control” in Wales.

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But he said “it continues to be very difficult”.

He said: “We have to take further measures to make sure that the growth we are seeing at the moment is reversed, so that our health services in Wales does not go from being a National Health Service to a National Coronavirus Service just at the point in the year where we need the health service to be there for all the other things that it is needed to do, particularly over the winter.

“I think we’re learning a lot about the way the coronavirus responds during the autumn and the winter months.

“I’m afraid that we still see levels of household mixing in Wales that are encouraging the growth of the virus and we’re learning, I think, that while the vast majority of people absolutely want to do the right thing, work very hard to try to follow the rules, it only needs a relatively small number of people to be engaged in small acts of selfishness for the virus to be able to thrive in those conditions.”

The Scottish Government has issued guidance for the five-day period, suggesting people meet in their bubbles for just one of those days.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it “would be better” if just two households met, although three are still allowed.

The British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal released their first joint editorial in more than 100 years to insist rules over Christmas should be tightened and not relaxed.

“We believe the Government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives,” the editorial said.

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If someone in a bubble develops coronavirus symptoms, it means everyone must immediately isolate – if they met between two days before and 10 days after their symptoms started.

If the person returns a positive test all members must self-isolate for 14 days from first contact.

The UK Government’s Christmas ‘travel tsar’ Sir Peter Hendy suggested people should “stay local” during the festive period and book public transport early.

Addressing the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, Sir Peter said: “One ought to say ‘be careful’. One ought to say ‘stay local’ because that’s the tone of the message from the Government, stay local if you can.

“But the most important part of the message is to book public transport early.”

On potential travel restrictions, he made clear that it was up to the Government as to whether travel should be restricted.

He said: “As for travelling by car, unless the police block roads, there is no way of stopping it.”

Ms Sturgeon told Express.co.uk at her regular coronavirus briefing: “Generally my advice is stay local, stay in your own home and don’t travel if you can avoid it.

“If you have to travel on public transport then book ahead, recognise and understand that there will be limited capacity because all of the physical distancing will be in place.

“You should take all of that into account.”

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