Health chiefs announce COVID alert level reduction across all four UK nations

The Chief Medical Officers from Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland have issued a joint statement following the continued fall in the number of COVID cases and the threat to the NHS receding.

The statement from Dr Frank Atherton, professor Chris Whitty, Dr Michael McBride and Dr Gregor Smith said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

There are five colour coded alert levels that measure the level of risk to the public and the NHS. These are not the same as the Welsh Government COVID restriction levels.

  • Level five (red) – a “material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed”
  • Level four – a high or rising level of transmission
  • Level three – the virus is in general circulation
  • Level two – the number of cases and transmission are low
  • Level one (green) – Covid-19 is no longer present in the UK

The change to alert level 4 does not automatically mean restrictions can ease, but it helps to inform government decisions on lockdown rules.

For the time being, Wales remains in lockdown and restrictions will not automatically change. This can however help to inform government decisions on future lockdown rules.

Lead image: Dr Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales.

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