Coronavirus is widespread in Wales and there are “very few reasons to be cheerful” about the situation in the country, Wales’ Health Minister has said.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wales passed the 100,000 mark at the weekend.
“The situation in Wales looks, and is, very serious,” he said.
“The latest figures show cases are rising in all but one local authority area in Wales.
“All this tells us that coronavirus is widespread in our communities and the chances of catching or spreading it whenever we are in contact with other people is high.
“That is why we are asking everyone not to mix with people you don’t live with.”
Some surgery and appointments will be postponed at Swansea Bay University Health Board, after the Aneurin Bevan health board area took similar measures, Vaughan Gething said.
“Health boards are making difficult decisions to pause some normal services to focus on winter and pandemic pressures,” he said.
“Many people who are admitted to hospital will be there for weeks and need intensive support to recover,” he told the briefing.
“Significant numbers of NHS staff are either off sick or self-isolating, so there are staff shortages in key areas.
“Health boards are making difficult decisions to pause some normal services to focus on winter and pandemic pressures. Swansea Bay University Health Board, for example, has postponed some surgery and outpatient appointments.”
People living in care homes will start to receive the coronavirus vaccine from Wednesday, the health minister said.
The Health Minister said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would be rolled out at a “greater pace” before Christmas if all goes well this week. So far, 6,000 people have received the vaccine since Tuesday of last week.
“We started vaccinating people last week, giving us real hope that next year will be different – and better – than 2020.
“Clinics will continue this week and we will start vaccinating people living in care homes, starting in North Wales from Wednesday.
“We are starting this phase of the programme slowly – we need to make sure we can safely transport the vaccine to people who can’t come to clinics.
“This vaccine has to be stored at ultra-low temperatures.
“Repackaging the vaccine into smaller quantities suitable for use in care homes has to be done under strict conditions set by the regulator.
“There’s a risk it becomes less potent if it is moved too much once it’s been thawed.
“If all goes well this week, we will roll out care home vaccination at greater pace ahead of Christmas – bringing a new level of protection to some of our most vulnerable people.”