PM’s plan to end isolation rule not backed by scientific evidence – Gething

The Welsh economy minister said he had been ‘fairly surprised’ by Boris Johnson’s announcement.

Bronwen Weatherby
Friday 11 February 2022 09:16
Welsh wconomy minister Vaughan Gething said Boris Johnson’s intention to scrap self-isolation rules in England are not backed up by public health advice (PA)
Welsh wconomy minister Vaughan Gething said Boris Johnson’s intention to scrap self-isolation rules in England are not backed up by public health advice (PA)

A Welsh Government minister has said he was “fairly surprised” by the Prime Minister’s announcement that self-isolation rules could be scrapped early, and claimed the move is not backed up by scientific evidence.

Boris Johnson has said all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England could be gone within weeks, including the legal requirement to isolate after a positive coronavirus test. The previous plan had been to end the rule on March 24.

The move has taken many experts by surprise, with one describing it as either “brave or stupid”.

Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething told BBC Breakfast that Mr Johnson’s statement did not appear to be based on “public health advice”.

He said: “I was fairly surprised at the manner of the announcement made by the Prime Minister and indeed the fact there doesn’t appear to be an underpinning of public health advice.

“There was no meeting with chief medical officers in advance of the Prime Minister’s statement. I’ve not seen advice from Sage on this, or indeed scientific evidence underpinning what’s happened from any other source.

“Here in Wales, the choices we are making today have gone through that process.”

The Prime Minister cited falling hospital cases and high levels immunity, from vaccination and infection, in the population for his reasoning.

However, infection levels remain high and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests they could be rising again. There is also concern about a subvariant of Omicron, BA.2, that is emerging.

Mr Gething will host Wales’s publicly-broadcasted three-week review of coronavirus regulations on Friday after First Minister Mark Drakeford tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday.

The Welsh Government announced on Thursday night that Covid passes are to be scrapped this month and the need to wear face coverings in certain venues removed as coronavirus cases continue to fall.

Mr Drakeford, who has typically taken a cautious approach to lifting restrictions, signalled that face masks could be scrapped completely by the end of March should public health conditions continue to improve.

But he has said there are currently no plans to end the self-isolation rules in the country, which mean people with Covid have to remain at home for five full days and return a negative lateral flow test on days five and six.

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