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A two-week “fire break” lockdown in Wales will protect the NHS from being overwhelmed due to the resurgence of coronavirus and save lives, the First Minister has said. Mark Drakeford appealed to the nation to “come together” and “play our part in a common endeavour” as the new measures come into force from 6pm Friday. The restrictions, which will require people to stay at home and non-essential businesses like pubs and shops to be closed, will only last until November 9.
Speaking to LBC, Mr Drakeford said: “In the weeks that follow, we would hope to see the R number, which in Wales is somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4, come down below one.
“We’d hope to see a reduction of the flow of people into our hospitals with 100 people in hospital beds in Wales suffering with coronavirus – it was 500 two weeks ago.
“We have to turn that around.”
He continued: “We will bring the period to an end on November 9 – and it will not be because by November 9 everything will be heading in the right direction.
“There’s at least a two-week lag between any measure you take and any impact on the spread and the severity of the virus.”
The “sharp and deep” lockdown will be brought in to coincide with the school half-term.
The decision follows a report from the Welsh Government’s Tactical Advisory Group (TAG), which said a lockdown would “massively reduce” Covid-19 transmission in Wales and prevent hundreds of deaths.
On Monday, Mr Drakeford said the lockdown was the best chance the country had of regaining control of the virus and avoiding “a much more damaging national lockdown”.
He told the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 press briefing in Cardiff: “The window we have within which we have to act is only a small one. And to be successful, we need everybody’s help.
“Here in Wales, this is the moment to come together – to play our part in a common endeavour. To do everything we can, together, to protect the NHS and to save lives.
“And if we do this, our health service will be able to care for people with coronavirus, and everybody else.”
He added: “Of course this will not be easy. But if we act together, we can succeed.”
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Mr Drakeford said the lockdown would be a “short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and give us more time”.
Under the lockdown, people will be asked to stay at home and to leave only for a limited list of reasons, including to obtain essential supplies, exercise, to seek or provide care, and to attend school.
People will be encouraged to work from home if possible, with the exception of critical workers.
A document published for the public by TAG on Monday estimates that the R value in Wales is currently estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.4.
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