Covid cases in Wales decline for fourth straight week
Covid-19 infections in Wales are continuing to fall, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In the week ending 16 August, the estimated number of people testing positive for Covid was 65,500, equating to 2.15% of the population, or around 1 in 45 people.
Over the previous week 72,600 people or around 1 in 40 people were estimated to have the virus in Wales.
The latest figures show the number of infections has declined for the last four weeks.
Across the UK, a total of 1.4 million people in private households are estimated to have had the coronavirus, the lowest level recorded in the weekly infection survey for more than two months.
In England 1.2 million people in England were likely to have tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to August 16, the equivalent of around one in 45, the ONS said.
This is down from 1.4 million, or one in 40, in the previous survey in early August.
The latest estimate for people testing positive in Scotland is 135,000, or around one in 40, down from 164,100, or one in 30.
In Northern Ireland, infections were estimated to be 26,400, or one in 70 people, down from 36,600, or one in 50.
Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the Covid-19 infection survey, said: “Infections continue to head in the right direction across all of the UK and are now at levels similar to those last seen in mid-June.
“Rates remain lowest in school-aged children and we will closely monitor the data to see how the return of schools in September may affect this.”
Health experts have warned levels are likely to rise again in the autumn and winter, however.
The ONS infection survey is the most reliable measure of the prevalence of Covid-19 and is based on a sample of swab tests from households across the UK.
The BA.4/BA.5 wave has not been as steep as the Omicron BA.2 wave earlier in 2022, which saw weekly infections peak at 4.9 million in late March.
Hospital numbers during the latest wave have also peaked at a lower level than earlier in the year.
A new booster jab will be offered to everyone in Wales aged 50 and over from next month, as well as those with underlying health conditions, to increase protection ahead of future waves.
As part of the Welsh Government’s winter respiratory vaccination strategy, people who are eligible for the Covid jab are also being urged to take up the flu vaccine when offered.
In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), eligible adults aged 18 and over will initially be offered the Moderna vaccine which protects from both the original Covid virus and the Omicron variant.
The UK became the first nation to authorise the vaccine, described as “next generation” by experts, when the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved it earlier this month.
The MHRA said that the vaccine’s side effects are the same as those seen in the original Moderna booster dose and were typically mild.
Those eligible aged under 18 will be offered the Pfizer vaccine. Both vaccines will be offered at least three months after a previous dose.
Eligible adults will mostly be invited via letter to attend a vaccination centre, GP or pharmacy for their autumn booster vaccination.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Vaccines have had an enormous impact on the course of the pandemic and have helped to weaken the link between the virus, serious illness, hospitalisations and death. They have saved countless lives and given us the freedom and confidence to restart our lives.
“I urge anyone who is eligible and invited to have the autumn booster this year to take up the offer and I thank everyone working on the vaccination programme in Wales.”
Health boards are set to administer the flu jab alongside the Covid vaccination where possible to maximise take up and ensure more people are protected this winter.
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