2,000 cases of new and possibly more transmissible form of Delta variant in Wales says First Minister
Over 2,000 cases of a new form of the Covid Delta variant have been detected in Wales, the First Minister has said.
Mark Drakeford pointed to the new variant as one factor that may explain why Covid cases have not fallen in line with expectations.
Speaking at his Friday press conference, he referred to a slide (below) that showed that that cases had continued to rise beyond what Swansea University modeling had predicted.
The new ‘Delta plus’ variant, AY.4.2, has even gained ground on the extra transmissible Delta variant. Delta plus was said earlier this week to now account for about 10% of sequenced virus samples in England, but there are no published figures for Wales.
The UK Health Security Agency said that the new variant of Delta may be spreading because of a biological change in the virus – including increased transmissibility or immune escape.
It could however have just spread by chance in a population subgroup with higher levels of transmission, such as young people.
“It is still uncertain whether AY.4.2 is growing due to a biological difference,” they said.
The First Minister says the rise in cases was likely also down to a spread among young people, which was now starting to impact other age groups.
A mistake at a lab in England which meant that people in the south-east of Wales were given false-negative results could also have contributed to the rise, he said.
“We have identified over 2,0000 cases of a new and possible more tranmissible form of the Delta variant in Wales already here in Wales,” he said.
“One in 40 people in Wales could have coronavirus. More than 820 hospital beds across Wales are occupied today by Covid patients.
“The next few weeks is about making sure we get back on track with the module and see infections fall across Wales.
“If rates continue to rise rather than fall the Cabinet will have to consider introducing further restrictions at the next review. None of us want to see that happen.”