Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen a steady rise in the number of coronavirus infections in Wales. This statement updates Members about the current public health situation.
We are in the midst of a new wave of infections, caused by the BA.4 and BA.5 subtypes of the omicron variant. These are fast-moving, highly infectious forms of the virus, which are causing a surge in infections across the UK and in many other countries around the world.
Public Health Wales reports the current dominant variant in Wales is the BA.5 variant of omicron.
The latest results of the ONS’ Coronavirus Infection Survey estimate 4.93% of the population in Wales had Covid-19 in the week ending 30 June – this is equivalent to approximately one person in 20. This has increased from an estimated 1.33% of the population (one in 75) from the week ending 2 June.
Across the UK, the estimated prevalence of coronavirus ranges from 3.95% in England to 5.94% in Scotland for the week ending 30 June.
As we have seen in previous waves, the increase in cases in the community, has led to an increase in the number of people being admitted to and treated in hospital for Covid-19. The latest available information shows there are now more than 960 Covid-19-related patients in Welsh hospitals and there has also been an increase in number of people with Covid-19 being treated in critical care.
A large number of NHS staff are currently off work because they have Covid-19.
The NHS has been working incredibly hard to provide planned care for people across Wales and to reduce waiting times, which had built up over the course of the pandemic. This task becomes more difficult when pandemic pressures increase.
Some hospitals have taken the difficult decision to restrict visiting to prevent coronavirus from spreading among patients and staff; others are asking all visitors to wear face coverings.
We are not making face coverings mandatory in health and care settings , but I would encourage everyone to wear one if they are visiting a healthcare setting and I would also ask people to consider wearing a face covering in crowded indoor public places, while cases of coronavirus are currently high.
We have extended the availability of free lateral flow tests for people who have symptoms of coronavirus until the end of July. There are a number of other simple steps everyone can take to keep themselves and Wales safe. These include:
- Get vaccinated
- Maintain good hand hygiene
- Stay at home and limit your contact with others if you are ill
- Wear a face covering in indoor crowded or enclosed places
- Meet others outdoors wherever possible
- When indoors, increase ventilation and let fresh air in.