Reaching out to other countries

A few thoughts today about the international dimensions to our Welsh struggle against Coronavirus. 

In the last few weeks, I have reached out to a few countries that might be able to help us in specific ways. Here’s a quick summary:

  • With Cuban doctors assisting in Lombardy and several other countries around the world, I asked the Cuban Government if they would be open to sending a delegation from the Cuban Medical Brigade to Wales if the need arose. They said yes and having checked with NHS leaders in the field that this would be useful, I passed the details over to the relevant Welsh Government officials. 
  • When the Basque co-operative Mondragon announced a couple of weeks ago it had designed a production line that could produce millions of PPE masks, then I got in touch to see if they were open to us building the same production line here. When they said yes, I put them in touch with the excellent team at Industry Wales and detailed discussions are ongoing.
  • When the generous initiative on PPE donations by the Taiwanese Government was brought to my attention, I wrote to the Taiwanese President to ask if they might consider donating some equipment to Wales. They confirmed that a million masks had already been given to the UK and I’ve sought confirmation that we will receive our share.


Most recently I have received confirmation from the Chinese Ambassador that China is willing to help Wales in any way it can. This connection is a deep and resonant one in the context of COVID-19. It is thought that the first patient to test positive for the virus was treated at Wuhan Union Hospital, founded by Welshman Griffith John, over 160 years ago. Wuhan is Swansea’s twin city in China because of the rich legacy of Griffith John and his wife in Hubei Province. Swansea University Medical School and the Union Hospital have strong links and there has been a two-way relationship of knowledge exchange and practical support in fighting COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The specific idea of emulating Northern Ireland in securing additional Personal Protective Equipment via the Chinese Government, both through state-owned suppliers and other manufacturers, is something I have asked the Health Minister Vaughan Gething to investigate. I hope to speak to colleagues in Northern Ireland directly this week to get more information on their PPE strategy. 

I am very grateful to all those who have contacted us, both in the Welsh diaspora based abroad and those in Wales with international links, with offers of help. We will pass all the ideas and leads we are given to the Welsh Government and hope they will be followed up. Looking to Westminster, as this blog by Global Welsh argues, doesn’t always produce the result we want. In that respect, we need to look to ourselves AND look further afield. The diaspora is the vital bridge between those two valuable perspectives.

The most valuable commodity of all at the moment is, of course, knowledge. Just as physicians are sharing knowledge, policy-makers need to do the same. Germany in Europe and South Korea in Asia are two countries that have had celebrated success in the battle against the disease with their signature policies of mass testing. But a feature of the pandemic has also been the many small countries who have achieved very low fatality rates following a disease elimination rather than containment strategy. Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Georgia and Iceland – with a combined population more than seven times that of Wales- have so far registered just 29 COVID-19 deaths between them. This week as the Welsh Government continues to consider its post-Lockdown strategy. Plaid Cymru will contact these small nations to see how we in Wales could learn from their approach. As the French writer André Gide once said – and it is certainly most apt in this context: “I love small nations. I love small numbers. The world will be saved by the few”


  • Anonymous
    commented 2020-04-14 13:21:24 +0100
    Adam whilst there is no doubt that Covid19 exists and will cause deaths in the mainly older and immunocompromised patients etc. There seems to be very little rational thought and a lot of hysteria going on. All that was necessary was to isolate the old and vulnerable, fund the NHS properly and then keep the rest of the economy ticking along. Over the whole year deaths from Covid 19 will turn out to be similar or just a bit worse than previous pandemics such as the 2009 Swine flu outbreak. If you’re struggling for PPE now it is quite simply because you have failed as politicians to fund the NHS properly for this type of event.

    Sure any death is bad but when there are 100,000+ deaths in the UK from Coronary Heart disease (Mostly preventable) I notice that take away food shops have not been closed? Why is that more people will die from CHD in Wales this year than from Covid 19. In fact many of those who have been scared by you and the media are happily contributing to their obesity, alcoholism and dietary related conditions (that are contributory factors to Covid 19 deaths) right now because of the ridiculous total lockdown.

    Can you confirm that before bringing a ridiculous TOTAL lockdown that you were aware that the UK Government’s Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens had downgraded Covid 19 and it is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK?

    Were you aware of the French Scientists’ study in France published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents where they state

    “Finally, in OECD countries, SARS-CoV-2 does not seem to be deadlier than other circulating viruses. In addition to coronaviruses, there are 16 endemic viruses in common circulation in developed countries (adenovirus, bocavirus, cytomegalovirus, enterovirus, influenza A H1N1 virus, influenza A H3N2 virus, influenza B virus, metapneumovirus, parainfluenzae virus 1, parainfluenzae virus 2, parainfluenzae virus 3, parainfluenzae virus 4, parechovirus, picornavirus, rhinovirus, syncytial respiratory virus), and 2.6 million deaths from respiratory infections (excluding tuberculosis) per year have been noted in recent years worldwide 27. There is little chance that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 could change this statistic significantly. Fear could have a larger impact than the virus itself”

    The Police in Wales are virtually out of control (as they are in the rest of the UK) acting Ultra Vires and turning Wales into a Police State. It is perfectly legal to drive to take exercise but the Police would have you believe it is not. The Police are just making the law up.

    Lord Sumption the former Supreme Court judge is very clear on this. He said

    “the tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform. They are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government’s command. Yet in some parts of the country the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country which are not contrary to the regulations, simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to. The police have no power to enforce ministers’ preferences, but only legal regulations which don’t go anything like as far as the government’s guidance. I have to say that the behaviour of the Derbyshire police in trying to shame people into using their undoubted right to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the Fells so that people don’t want to go there, is frankly disgraceful.

    This is what a police state is like. It’s a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes. I have to say that most police forces have behaved in a thoroughly sensible and moderate fashion. Derbyshire Police have shamed our policing traditions. There is a natural tendency of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniform into glorified school prefects. I think it’s really sad that the Derbyshire Police have failed to resist that."

    The civil liberties repercussions are horrendous and you seem to have just thrown your hands up and to be running around in the same hysteria accepting it.

    It should be obvious by now to anyone that the covid19 pandemic, whatever its origins, is being used to fast forward a “new normal” world of unparalleled government power, surveillance and curtailment of individual liberty.

    We are looking already at the possibility of:

    Compulsory DNRs for some elderly.
    Biometric chips or bracelets to monitor whether or not you have permission to be outside your home or engage in work
    Drone surveillance as normal.
    Apps on your phone that can detect any breach of the self-isolation policy.
    Huge new police powers of arrest and detention for anyone suspected of carrying the virus. And as we have seen there are no checks on them at present
    Suspension of parliamentary scrutiny for indefinite periods at government discretion
    And this is only the starter course.

    We can be pretty sure they are currently just easing us in. The real stuff will be rolling along in the next months or maybe years (depending on how quickly they feel able to get this on).

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