Coronavirus
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Coronavirus Crisis - last updated on Friday 24th April 2020

Caving remains on hold The text for earlier versions of this page can be downloaded here.  We report below on news up to 24th April.

THE PAST THREE WEEKS NEWS

Boris Johnson caught the virus, was hospitalised for a fortnight and is now recuperating quietly at Chequers.  The Queen gave a rare address to the nation from her base at Windsor Castle.  The Office for National Statistics has questioned official death figures for the virus after discovering that total deaths in recent weeks are running well above usual levels even after adding in the official numbers for virus deaths. This discrepancy is attributed to many deaths in care homes or in the community not being correctly ascribed to Coronavirus, prompting fresh debate about professional staff in social care settings, and family in domestic ones, as heroes equal to others. The number of cases in Wales has grown from 2,446 three weeks ago to 8,601 today, and unfortunately the number of hospital deaths rose from 141 (6%) to 751 (8%).  Across the UK, cases have risen to 138,078 with 18,738 deaths (13%).  Worldwide reported cases have risen to 2.7M with 0.2M deaths (7%). Analysis has shown that Asian countries have managed the pandemic far better than many in Europe and North America.  For example Thailand, the second country to be hit with the virus after China and with a similar land area and population to the UK, has only suffered only 2,800 cases and 50 deaths (2%), but it had imposed a near continuous lockdown from February when the disease was first detected there. UK politics has turned to laying blame and defining criteria and a timetable to exit lockdown given its enormous economic impact from paying employers to retain jobs that otherwise would be lost, and other schemes to support the self-employed and to provide business loans and guarantees, plus the suffering of those not receiving State support.  In addition, the Welsh Government paid £10,000 of ‘helicopter money’ this week to small businesses using small premises this week, and larger grants to larger ones.  Meanwhile the UK and Wales lockdowns have been extended by another three weeks into the middle of May, and possibly for longer.  Social-distancing measures could remain in force until at least the end of 2020. The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has today published a three pillar framework that asks seven key questions to help lead Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic.  The framework will help to determine when the  restrictions can begin to be relaxed in Wales and will help to find a way for people in Wales to live and work alongside coronavirus.  It includes the development of a national programme of surveillance, case identification, contact tracing - highlighting the importance of testing to contain new infections after restrictions are eased. View the Public Health Wales Coronavirus Dashboard Every statistic in the data linked above is a real person, a lost person with family and friends.  Please do your very best to follow the official guidance and halt the spread of this virus through needless acts or carelessness.

LEGAL UPDATE

Most police officers are being reasonable, but some are not.  One police force apologised after an officer told a family they were not allowed on their own front garden during the Covid-19 lockdown.  Another chief constrable had to back down after threatening to search supermarket trolleys for what police regard as non-essential items like alcohol or chocolate, potentially imposing £60 fixed penalty notices on shoppers.  Home Secretary Priti Patel described this kind of heavy-handed policing as “not appropriate”.   The Prime Minister’s spokesperson added that: “Shops are free to sell whatever they have in stock, obviously provided it’s legal to do so.” The College of Policing has issued new guidance applying to England after the recent spate of over-zealous policing.  This covers booze and luxury items, driving short distances for exercise, stopping for rests while exercising, non-essential non-key workers travelling to work where it is not reasonably possible for them to work from home.  No equivalent ‘educational’ materials have been produced for police staff in Wales, but the Welsh Government has clarified its position today saying: “The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) and the subsequent BBC news article suggested it may be acceptable to drive farther afield for exercise, Welsh Government can confirm that the four police forces in Wales are not adopting this guidance.” Some landowners in the Welsh countryside have blocked public footpaths across land unilaterally while one local authority has erected ad hoc “road closed” signs on some minor roads, and is not responding to requests to explain the legal authority for such signs. With cavers wanting to maintain fitness whilst caving itself is unavailable, many are now cycling, running or walking  from home.  The Welsh Government has collected all the countryside closure links for its local authorities, its national parks, and other public bodies on to one webpage here. New lockdown rules came into effect in Wales from Saturday 25th April.  The previous requirement for people “not to leave the place where they live” (except for essential activities like exercise or shopping or a medical visit) becomes “not to leave or remain away from home”.  This aims to discourage second home visits and very clearly is targetting keen cyclists by limiting them to distances from home as would by covered by typical walkers.  It is perhaps not realised by Welsh Ministers that fit cyclists might ride twenty miles in the time it takes the normal walker to do three.  Going round and round in small circles near home still seems to be legal in Wales as per the 100-year old who has raised millions for the NHS recently and is still seeking further sponsorship donations. .
Cambrian Caving Council