Covid in Wales: 'Lessons to learn' on anniversary of first case

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image captionWales has been in lockdown since 20 December with a review of rules due on 12 March

Wales could "definitely have done things differently" in tackling Covid-19, the health minister has said.

Vaughan Gething was speaking on the anniversary of the first recorded Covid case in Wales.

An adult had tested positive on their return to Swansea from northern Italy on 28 February 2020, a month before the UK went into its first lockdown.

Mr Gething said, with hindsight, ministers could have "intervened more quickly".

He said cases rose around February half-term last year amid increased air travel in and out of mainland Europe as parts of Italy and Spain became "overwhelmed" with cases.

"If you look back, you can see potential in making different choices. Looking forward, there are definite lessons to learn," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"Given the surveillance out of China, we knew that there was a problem coming.

"We knew that it was relatively contagious. I think we would have taken a more restrictive approach to international travel.

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"But it was still the case that the advice to me was with the knowledge we had at the time, 'we think we gave you the right advice'."

However Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has previously said it was "not enough" for both the UK and Welsh governments to argue they acted on the best evidence at the time.

He said objections were raised at the time over being "too slow" into lockdown and coming out of the firebreak "without a gradual approach".

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies wants a "common framework" of UK-wide Covid rules to be adopted going forward.

Mr Gethin said the Covid vaccine had offered "renewed hope".

On Saturday, latest figures showed more than one million vaccines have now been administered in Wales in the 12 weeks since the vaccine rollout.

The majority of care home residents and other target groups aged over 70 have had their first doses.

image captionVaughan Gething took his mother to get her first jab on Saturday

Mr Gething said testing hospital patients prior to discharge into care homes could have been introduced earlier.

But he said the "bigger factor" was the size of some nursing homes and the measures that could have taken around other people visiting those homes.

"We could have had a greater clarity and adherence to infection prevention and control measures across our care homes," said Mr Gething.

"All of those things are elements where the government, the National Health Service, and care homes themselves have a role to play.

"But also the public too, because I do think it took a while for everyone to accept that it was serious as it was."

Wales went into a short firebreak lockdown last autumn and then the current lockdown was introduced on 20 December in a bid to cut transmission rates.

Data published by Public Health Wales on Saturday showed it's the first time all Wales' 22 local authority areas have recorded double figure case rates at the same time - less than 100 cases per 100,000 people - since 6 September.

Stay-at-home rules banning all but essential travel and care home visits are due to be reviewed on 12 March.

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