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Welsh Government gets new powers to tackle Coronavirus

Health Minister Vaughan Gething has welcomed confirmation that the emergency powers sought by Wales to tackle Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be introduced by the UK Government.

News of the emergency powers comes as the Chief Medical Officer for Wales confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 in Wales, bringing the total number to four.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, confirmed that two further patients in Wales have tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID -19) yesterday.

The patients, who are from the same household, are resident in the Pembrokeshire local authority area and have recently returned from Northern Italy. The patients are being managed in a clinically appropriate setting. 

Dr Atherton said:

“I can confirm that two additional individuals in Wales have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of positive cases in Wales to four.

“Both individuals are resident in the same household in the Pembrokeshire local authority area and have recently returned from Northern Italy. They are being managed in a clinically appropriate setting. All appropriate measures to provide care for the individuals and to reduce the risk of transmission to others are being taken.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to assure the public that Wales and the whole of the UK is prepared for these types of incidents. Working with our partners in Wales and the UK, we have implemented our planned response, with robust infection control measures in place to protect the health of the public.”

The legislation will apply across the four UK nations and Wales has been fully involved in the development of the powers to ensure Wales is best-placed to respond to the spread of the virus.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:

 “These emergency powers will allow us to respond quickly and effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak by strengthening quarantine and mass gathering powers.

“They will also allow us to employ volunteers and staff who’ve recently left the NHS, and will allow for the closure of schools and colleges if necessary to contain the spread of the virus.

“Public safety is my absolute top priority and we are working around the clock to deal with the impact of COVID-19. These powers are an important, proportionate and coordinated response to help us do that.

“Waiting for these powers does not mean we’ve been unable to take a range of action here already. This week, further measures across Wales will include issuing personal protection equipment to all GP surgeries.

”We will also, this week, give details of plans for video consultations for people in Wales to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect frontline staff. This follows the introduction of the NHS Wales online symptom checker which is another important tool to support anyone concerned they may require testing.”