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Signs of ‘early autumn wave’ of Covid in Wales as hospitalisations and deaths rise

People in eligible groups are being urged by Public Health Wales to take advantage of the offer of a booster vaccine.

Experts have warned that Wales is displaying “early signs of a possible autumn wave” of Covid due to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. People in eligible categories are being urged by Public Health Wales to take advantage of the offer of a booster vaccine to help prevent them from serious illness.

Pregnant women, persons over the age of 50, people with long-term health conditions, and frontline health and social care workers are all eligible for the free Covid-19 vaccine. When invited, over 100,000 people in Wales had their booster shot last week. However, the PHW stated that there are still people who have not attended or have postponed their immunisation appointment.

The NHS trust confirmed that the invitation will be mailed to individuals by their local health board. It stated that qualified groups are “highly recommended” to accept the offer and schedule their appointments as soon as feasible.

Dr Christopher Johnson, interim head of the vaccine preventable disease programme for Public Health Wales, said: “While we have all been getting used to living with Covid, and while vaccination and overall population immunity are helping to keep serious illness at bay for most people, it is important that we do not become complacent.

“Everyone eligible for the booster vaccine can make a significant contribution to slowing down transmission of Covid, protecting themselves, their community and the NHS, by taking up the offer of a vaccine. Even if people are busy or have other plans, it is important to prioritise getting your booster when your appointment letter comes. It’s also vital that those who are eligible take up the offer of a flu vaccine, to help protect themselves and others this winter.”

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey, which is based on a random sample, the anticipated number of people in Wales testing positive for the virus for the week ending September 29 was 74,900, which translates to 2.47% of the population or roughly one in 40 people.

That’s up on the previous week where 2.09%, or one in 50 of Wales’ population, was thought to have Covid. The Welsh Government said the current rate of positive cases appears to be highest in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Powys, while the region covering Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil has lower rates of positivity.

Across the UK total infections have risen by 31% – the biggest jump since June. The ONS said there has been a “notable rise” in cases among older age groups who are seeing the highest rates of admission to hospital. Some 1.7 million people in private households across the UK are likely to have tested positive for coronavirus in the period September 23 to October 3, according to the ONS. This is up from 1.3 million in the previous survey which covered the period September 18 to 26.

Meanwhile there are currently 455 ‘confirmed’ positive Covid cases in Welsh hospitals, but only 14 of them are being actively treated for the virus which equates to just 3%.