Fall in cases has ‘stalled’ as new virus strain takes ‘firm foothold’ says First Minister

Mark Drakeford speaking at today’s press conference

The fall in Covid-19 cases in Wales has “stalled” as the new strain of coronavirus has taken a “firm foothold” in the north of Wales, according to the First Minister Mark Drakeford.

He said that he expected the new strain which was first identified in the south-east of England to become the dominant form of the virus in south Wales as well.

“The new strain of the virus has taken a firm foothold in north Wales – and we are seeing cases virus rising rapidly,” he said.

“We expect it to become the dominant strain in south Wales as well. There is no evidence that causes more serious illness but adding to pressure on NHS.

“It adds a new dangerous dimension to this public health crisis.”

Pfizer has said that its coronavirus vaccine appears to work against new strand discovered in the United Kingdom.

Mark Drakeford later took issue with those who said that Wales was lagging behind in vaccinations, saying it was a matter of “a fraction of one decimal point”.

“We are still in the early days of vaccination. It isn’t a sprint. We are going to be vaccinating people for months to come. It will gather pace over the months to come.”

He called for support for the NHS and the “stress and strain” that they are under.

 

‘Highest point’

“There has been a fall back from the very high levels which we saw before Christmas and before the alert level four restrictions were introduced,” Mark Drakeford said.

“But, over the last few days, that fall has stalled and rates have begun to creep up again.

“On Monday there were around 440 cases for every 100,000 people in Wales. Today that is 20 points higher.

“It is still the case that around one in four tests is positive for coronavirus and all of that demonstrates we still have very high levels in of this virus circulating in the community.

“There’s no evidence the new strain causes a more serious illness but it is adding to the pressure our NHS is experiencing at the moment.

“More than 2,700 coronavirus-related patients are being cared for in Welsh hospitals today and there are now 143 people with coronavirus in critical care beds.

“Overall the number of people in critical care has reached the highest point in the pandemic.”

Public Health Wales reported 56 deaths today and 2,487 new cases.

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