Cases could rise even higher as children return to school, says Drakeford – as hospitalisations rise 43% on last week
The First Minister has said that he expects Omicron cases in Wales to rise even higher as a result of mixing over the New Year and the return of children to school.
In a statement this morning he said that the latest data showed that hospitalisations had risen 43% in Wales in a week and were at the highest levels since March of last year.
He said that Omicron was putting a “significant strain” on the NHS and that staff absences were impacting other public services as well.
His statement came after he announced last night that Wales would be sticking to the restrictions introduced on Boxing Day, including no crowds at sports matches and a rule of six at hospitality venues.
“Omicron is now the dominant form of the virus in Wales and cases are rising sharply, Mark Drakeford said. “Cases are far higher now than they were at the peak of the previous waves. Rates are highest among 20 to 40-year-olds, but we are also seeing rises in older age groups.
“The latest figures show there are more than 2,200 cases per 100,000 people across Wales. This equates to approximately one person in every 20. This is in line with our modelling.
“The rapid rise in cases caused by the Omicron wave means we are all facing a difficult month ahead. The full impact of population mixing over the Christmas and New Year period is yet to be seen in the data, as is any impact of the return of children to schools, which will begin in earnest from next week. We must be prepared for cases to rise even higher, just as they have elsewhere in the UK.
“As cases rise steeply in the community, the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 is also rising. The latest figures show there are around 990 Covid-19 patients in our hospitals – a rise of 43% compared to last week and the highest number since last March.
“Omicron is putting significant pressure on the NHS at the busiest time of the year – not just from rising hospital admissions but through staff absences. Staff sickness levels are similarly rising in other public services.
“Following a review of the coronavirus regulations this week, Wales will remain at alert level two with the current protections in place for the time being. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Mark Drakeford has asked people to keep taking steps to protect each other and keep Wales safe from the wave of omicron cases, following the outcome of the latest regulations review.
Cases of coronavirus have risen sharply to their highest ever levels in the post-Christmas period. The latest figures show there are more than 2,200 cases per 100,000 people in Wales.
At alert level 2 people must:
- Wear a face covering (unless there is a reasonable excuse not to wear one) in all indoor public places, including when not seated in a pub, café or restaurant.
- Meet no more than five other people at a café, restaurant, pub or other public premises (unless with their household of a larger number). This applies to both outdoor and indoor areas of the premises.
- Work from home if they can.
- Self-isolate for seven days if they test positive for Covid-19. People should take a lateral flow test on day six and day seven. If either test is positive they should remain in isolation until two negative lateral flow tests or after day 10, whichever is sooner.
- Not take part in an organised event indoors of more than 30 people or outdoors for more than 50 people. All organised events must be organised by a responsible body and have a risk assessment.
People are also being encouraged to follow strengthened guidance to help them stay safe at home, this includes limiting the number of people they meet who they don’t live with, to flow before you go by taking a lateral flow test before going out, meeting people outdoors wherever possible and making sure indoor spaces are well ventilated.