Cardiff faces local lockdown after sharp rise in coronavirus cases

If cases of coronavirus continue to rise in the capital, Cardiff will be placed into local lockdown. That was the message delivered by, Huw Thomas, Leader of the Council, in his address to council last night.

If Cardiff were to be put in lockdown, it would be the seventh of the 22 local authorities to face tighter restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

In his speech, Mr Thomas listed concerns over the acceleration of cases in Cardiff over the past five days and increase in Hospital Emergency Unit attendance.

If Cardiff goes into lockdown, residents can expect restrictions on travel (no leaving the area unless for work, education or valid reason) and a ban on different households mixing in indoor settings.

Here is Mr Thomas’ statement in full:

Thank you, Lord Mayor, for giving me this opportunity to update members on the Covid-19 situation in Cardiff.

Members will be aware that a number of neighbouring authorities have experienced a sharp rise in infections, resulting in local lockdown arrangements now stretching from Bridgend to Newport.

While Cardiff is not yet affected by any localised lockdown measures, it’s important that you know that over the past week the number of new positive cases in the city has risen sharply: 

  • The rate of new Covid-19 cases (the number of cases per 100k over 7 days) has accelerated rapidly over the past 5 days and now stands at 38.2.
  • Test positivity has risen rapidly in Cardiff over the past 7 days. Cardiff has now reached a test positivity rate of 3.8% which exceeds the WG ‘amber’ threshold of 2.5%.
  • Covid-related calls to 111 and GP consultations have started increasing again in the last 2 weeks, reaching their highest since June and there has been a sharp rise in Hospital Emergency Unit attendance in the last week after a fairly stable rate during the end of August and early September – though I would add that we are yet, thankfully, to see a large rise in hospital admissions.
  • While there have been a few new cases in care homes and domiciliary care in the last fortnight, these numbers currently remain low and affect few settings. However there are early signs of an increasing trend in Cardiff.
  • While we are seeing cases in schools, the positive news is that the majority are single cases in a setting, with only a small number with more than one confirmed case.  And since September 6, there has not been a single reported case where a pupil who has been self-isolating has tested positive.

This has meant that over the past week Cardiff has moved from a relatively stable position to one where the city is on the verge of entering the Welsh Government’s ‘red zone’.

The evidence in Cardiff indicates that the spread of the infection is most frequently found within household settings.

Our Test, Trace and Protect data suggests this is particularly in cases where family bubble rules are being breached and where people are mixing in indoor, home settings and not following the rule of six. 

The truth – and we as Councillors will each have witnessed this in our local areas – is that indoor mixing with people not in extended household in homes, cafes, bars and restaurants, is happening far too frequently.

There has also been a change in the age profile of those infected, with a significant rise in the number of those aged 35-50 now testing positive. 

The transmission of the virus to older or vulnerable people and the consequent rise in emergency attendances, hospital admissions, and deaths is a serious concern.

These changes were of sufficient significance to trigger the convening of regular Incident Management Team meetings under our local Test, Trace, Protect service to consider the data, the likely cause of the rise in infections and whether additional local restrictions are required to contain the spread of the virus. 

The recommendations of the IMT earlier this week were considered and approved by the Senior Leadership Group of the Cardiff and Vale Test, Trace, Protect service, chaired by Charles Jancewski and attended by both myself and the Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Neil Moore.

The following additional measures and enhanced activity were therefore introduced in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan:

  • Enhancing our local communication and messaging, including stressing the importance not mixing with people indoors who aren’t in the extended household.
  • Limiting indoor visits to care homes and hospitals to essential visits only
  • Increasing engagement with businesses and enforcement action if non-compliant
  • Enhancing our work with the city’s universities and further education colleges to strengthen messages to students on the importance of complying with regulations – and the penalties for not doing so.

This package of measures, alongside the national measures announced by the First Minister, represented a balanced and proportionate response to the nature of the risk in Cardiff at that time.

As we have seen over the past week, the situation can change quickly.

If case numbers continue to rise over the weekend there is a very real possibility that Cardiff will enter into the Welsh Government’s ‘red zone.’ 

If that were to happen then I fully expect that we will be proposing further restrictions.

In the meantime, the Chief Executive and I are in constant dialogue with our counterparts in Welsh Government.

The Incident Management Team will continue to review the latest data and the impact of the additional measures we have introduced.

And, should the number of cases continue to rise, they will consider whether further and harder measures as seen in neighbouring authorities will be needed to suppress the spread of the virus in here in Cardiff.

To be clear, if this were to happen then the Council and our partners will not hesitate to take immediate and urgent action to contain the spread.

I know that we all, as members, are doing our utmost to share the message and to keep our communities safe.

My message now is that we all recommit ourselves to the public health guidelines and redouble our efforts in order to protect our families, our friends, and ourselves from harm.

Thank you.

Cllr Huw Thomas

Leader of Cardiff Council