Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales statement on 21 day COVID-19 review: 18 November 2021.
It is particularly difficult to predict the course of the pandemic as we enter Winter; as the booster programme competes with vaccine waning and the increased transmissibility of the delta variant. Whilst cases of COVID-19 have fallen across Wales with positivity rates at under 20%, they remain at a relatively high level and I am concerned that a potential surge in respiratory viruses including flu and RSV, could cause widespread ill health and put renewed pressure on the NHS.
Remaining at Alert level 0 in order to sustain efforts to limit transmission, continuing to support self-isolation as a key preventative measure and reinforcing the environmental and behavioural precautions that individuals and organisations can take to prevent transmission continue to be important. I note that there has been a drop in self- reported COVID-19 protective behaviours; wearing face coverings, avoiding contact and social distancing. On-going clear communications are required to reinforce the benefits of adherence as more people working from home, the use of masks in crowded indoor spaces, and increasing ventilation, do contribute to transmission reduction and therefore ultimately reduce the number of hospitalisations.
Encouraging everyone who is eligible to take up the offer of COVID-19 vaccination and booster programme is a priority especially for those most likely to have waning immunity (e.g. the vulnerable and those vaccinated first). Maximising the uptake of influenza vaccination in eligible populations, including among health and social care staff, should continue at pace.
Dr Chris Jones
Deputy Chief Medical Officer