WALES’s First Minister Mark Drakeford last week urged people in Wales to get vaccinated and keep taking familiar steps to help address rising coronavirus cases.


The request came when he announced there will be no significant changes to Covid rules in this 21-day regulations cycle.


Three weeks ago, Wales moved to Alert Level Zero. This removed legal restrictions on meeting others and enabled all businesses to open, while also keeping key legal protections in place.


Face coverings are mandatory in most public settings, everyone must continue to isolate if they have Covid symptoms or a positive test result, and businesses must take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.


People are being urged to continue to take precautions to protect themselves and others and to stop the virus from spreading.


Cases have continued to increase and earlier this week the case rate passed 320 cases per 100,000 people.

POSITION WORSE THAN
BEFORE SUMMER HOLIDAY

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Over the last 18 months people have worked together to keep Wales safe. The need to do this is as strong as it has ever been.


“The number of cases is increasing, and the public health position is worse than it was three weeks ago when we moved into Alert Level Zero.


“It’s vital we all keep taking precautions to ensure the progress we have won is not lost.
“Getting vaccinated remains one of the very best defences we have.


“If you haven’t already then please take up the offer and join more than 2.1 million people in Wales who’ve had a full course to protect themselves and to protect others.


“There are also everyday steps each of us can take to keep each other safe. This may be meeting others outdoors instead of indoors or keeping our distance from others when out.


“If you are with people indoors then opening a window to let fresh air into the room will mean the virus is less likely to spread.


“We are still asking people to work from home wherever possible.


“Actions like these will help stop the need for any stronger measures.


“The pandemic is still with us and that means we have to get vaccinated and continue to take precautions to keep the virus under control.”


While there are no substantive changes in this regulation cycle, some small amendments are being made to help simplify and clarify existing rules.


Those include people attending wedding and civil partnership ceremonies no longer being legally required to wear a face covering, in line with the exception already in place for wedding receptions.
The regulations will be reviewed again on 16 September.


Continued consideration of the case for the use of certification for entry into higher-risk settings will be undertaken as part of the review.


In the meantime, the NHS Covid Pass is already available in Wales and allows people to get a digital proof of their vaccination status, with businesses able to choose to use the pass as a condition of entry.

PRIORITY MUST
BE RECOVERY

Welsh Conservative shadow health minister, Russell George MS responded: “Given the current public health situation we expected no changes at this latest review.


“We have made great strides in the fight against coronavirus thanks to Britain’s fantastic vaccination programme, which has severely weakened the link between infection and hospitalisation and allowed the restoration of freedoms.


“The immediate priority for the Welsh Government should be our recovery – in the economy, society, and our public services – and maintaining the great progress we’ve made over the past few months.
“Talk of reimposing restrictions is completely unnecessary at this stage.


“Moving forward, we need to ensure all public health decisions in Wales are taken on the best possible data, with a focus on hospitalisation figures and a clear breakdown of those who are admitted due to COVID or other illnesses, and also those who acquire it in a hospital setting.”

WEST WALES CASES
RISE RAPIDLY

With COVID-19 cases rising across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, everyone is asked to remember what we can do to protect ourselves and each other.


As at 26 August, the rolling weekly rate per 100,000 saw an increase in all three counties, with Carmarthenshire increasing to 287, Ceredigion to 271 and Pembrokeshire 396.


The overall rate for Hywel Dda increased this week to 319 per 100,000.


The number of tests carried out in the Hywel Dda UHB area has also increased for the same period, with results showing an increase in positivity to 17% (11% the previous week).  


While the most significant increase is amongst the under-30s, there are still positive cases among the over-70s.


Even if vaccinated, following these simple steps can keep us safe, and remember that some rules are different in Wales.

• Work from home whenever you can
• Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms, even if mild
• Meet outside, it is safer than inside
• Limit social contacts and keep a distance when possible
• Wear a mask, especially in crowded places
• Wash hands regularly and thoroughly

 Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We are still very much in this pandemic which continues to disrupt our everyday lives. I’m proud of how much effort people have put into staying safe since it began.


“The rise in cases shows that, whilst hospital admissions are not as high as in previous waves, COVID-19 remains a risk to our health and our health service.


“I’m appealing to everyone to continue doing our bit by sticking with the ‘keep safe’ behaviours that have almost become second nature.


“Without your help, we will struggle to contain further spread of coronavirus here in West Wales.”