Claims that visitors are trying to register with local GPs amid Coronavirus isolation
The Welsh Government has been urged to force the closure of caravan parks amid claims that an influx of visitors are trying to register with local GPs and placing additional strain on the local health service.
Ynys Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth says that ministers must issue instructions to close caravan parks, whilst supporting business owners, in order to protect north Wales health services.
This follows earlier calls from Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts, who raised concerns that extra strain is being placed on local health services by second home owners trying to escape the outbreak of the virus in more urban areas.
Mr ap Iorwerth said he was contacted by a local GP on Friday who was concerned that a large number of new patients had tried to register with his practice whilst on the island to isolate.
“Over the past week, I’ve raised multiple times with Welsh Government, including in the Assembly Chamber, fears that our health services are coming under unnecessary increased pressure due to an influx of visitors,” said Mr ap Iorwerth.
“Today I have had a GP contact me saying a dozen people have tried to register with his surgery as new patients whilst they’re here to isolate. He reports a major influx to his local community and that’s just second homes.
“We must have an instruction to close caravan parks etc, whilst providing support to the business owners, but protecting our health services as much as we can. The Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr agrees, and so too council leaders here and in other parts of Wales.
“I’m writing again to Welsh Government to raise this as an urgent issue, and in a meeting this evening with the Health Minister.”
Anglesey Council’s Tourism and Economic portfolio holder, Cllr Carwyn Jones, added: “Visitors should respectfully stay away from Anglesey for the time being.
“We need to slow down the spread of the virus and do everything we can to protect lives and our NHS.
“Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel Anglesey is such a beautiful place and we always value and welcome visitors to our island with open arms, but we are all fighting a deadly disease, lives are at risk and we all need to play our part, the sooner we defeat this the sooner we can all rebuild and get back to normal.”
Friday also saw Liz Saville Roberts write to the UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, call for a “no-travel directive” in respect of holiday homes and caravan parks in rural Wales until the coronavirus pandemic has abated.
In her letter, she noted: “There are warnings being issued across the UK by doctors in rural areas who say that there are dangers of low hospital capacity if people travel to isolate.
“I urge you, as I have done the Welsh Government, to issue an immediate no travel directive, advising people against travelling to their holiday homes in rural areas until the Coronavirus crisis has abated.
“Such travel plans should be designated as “non-essential” and I encourage you to ask those who are considering self-isolating to do so at their principal residence.
“I urge you to support rural areas which are being forced to deal with increased populations during this difficult time including a rural economy fund, securing vital medical equipment for public services and ensuring that food supply chains to rural areas are maintainted.”
Earlier this week the Plaid Westminster leader said that the population churn, whereby the population of Dwyfor may increase threefold, poses a risk in Wales, which – with around five intensive care beds per 100,000 people – is under greater potential pressure than health services in England.
In response, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are asking everyone to play their part in slowing the spread of coronavirus – if someone has a new persistent cough or a temperature, everyone in the household should stay at home for 14 days. They can also help by following the expert advice about protecting themselves if they are in an at-risk group.
“Our NHS and healthcare professionals are doing a great job providing care to people all over Wales, wherever they come from, and we are doing all we can to ensure the NHS has the resources it needs to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.”
By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter
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