Welsh Government needs to make every effort to ensure the most vulnerable groups in society are shielded throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Plaid Cymru has said.

The MND society have stated that they are “extremely concerned” to see that people with MND have not been included in the Government’s list of extremely vulnerable persons in their guidance on shielding and protecting vulnerable persons from COVID-19.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said he was aware of the strong case put forward by MND campaigners and said the “right mechanisms” should be in place to protect more people by adding them to the vulnerable list.

Actress and comedian Carys Eleri has backed Plaid Cymru’s calls after she lost her father to MND after a short battle with the disease in 2018.

Mr ap Iorwerth said he had raised this matter directly with the Welsh Government and said whilst indebted to the “fantastic efforts of volunteers across the country”, the Welsh Government should make “every effort” to ensure the most vulnerable groups would be shielded throughout the course of the pandemic.

Carys Eleri said that to have MND not be classed as extremely vulnerable was “heart breaking, careless and unthoughtful” of the condition and the families it affects.

Ms Eleri said her Father’s decline had been “fast and unprecedented” and within the same period of time as the current lockdown has taken place he was “wheelchair bound and deteriorated rapidly”. If her Father’s condition wasn’t classed as ‘extremely vulnerable then she said “I don’t know what is.”

Ms Eleri added that anybody faced with the double trauma of MND and Covid-19 needed “help and assurance that they are taken seriously”.

Shielding is a practice used to protect extremely vulnerable people from being affected by coronavirus.

Over 81,000 people in Wales have received letters from Welsh Government telling them to shield during the current crisis, but Plaid Cymru is backing campaigners arguing that those with Motor Neuron Disease (MND), and other vulnerable groups, should be asked to shield as well.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said,

“I’m aware of the strong case put forward by MND campaigners, and we need to ensure that the right mechanisms are in place to protect more people through adding them to the ‘most vulnerable’ list where that is appropriate.

“I have raised this matter with Welsh Government Health Minister directly, as well as the possibility of including other vulnerable groups in the list of people who should be undertaking ‘shielding’ measures at this time, and I understand the Minister will discuss this matter further with the Chief Medical Officer for Wales.

“We are indebted to the fantastic efforts of volunteers across the country – such as is being co-ordinated by Medrwn Mon and Isle of Anglesey County Council – to look after the most vulnerable in our society at this challenging time, but we need to see every effort made by Government to ensure the most vulnerable groups are shielded throughout the course of this pandemic.”

Carys Eleri said,

“The thought of dad being so incredibly ill and vulnerable in this situation now is terrifying. The pressure on us as a family would have quadrupled over- night. Not being classed as ‘extremely vulnerable’ is heart breaking, careless and unthoughtful of this complex condition and the families of whom it affects.”

“He was 66, fit and healthy and he decline was fast and unprecedented. Within one month of diagnosis, dad was wheelchair bound and deteriorated rapidly - that is the same period of time as this current lockdown. He was falling everywhere, losing muscle mass, his strength and voice weakening each day and within months, reliant on oxygen and 24 hr care at home – my mother 70 year old mother being the primary carer. If that isn’t classed as ‘extremely vulnerable I don’t know what is.”

 “Anybody faced with this trauma right now needs help and assurance that they are taken seriously.  Their families need help, they need to feel cared for. Dad was a physically strong man but I have never seen anyone so vulnerable in my life – all of us were vulnerable, we were terrified. In this current situation his declining health would have made him extremely susceptible to COVID19 especially in light of the fact that care workers are still not provided with the correct PPE. These are incredibly scary times for many people, please do not leave MND sufferers behind. It is a rare condition with traumatically dehumanising attributes – to overlook its sufferers is to throw a very big arrow through every MND suffering family’s heart.  At the time, every Doctor and neurologist told us that this was the one disease they ‘didn’t want to die from’. This has now probably been surpassed by Covid19. Imagine living with them both.”

“Please, please review your policy today.”