Wales’ health boards, police forces, fire brigades and councils have released a joint statement urging Wales’ public to heed Covid-19 rules.
In the statement, they said that Covid-19 was spreading faster in Wales than at any other time during the pandemic, and drew attention to the new and more easily transmissible virus strain.
They said that they were under intense pressure and urged people to avoid mixing over Christmas if they can.
“As the festive period fast approaches, please think carefully about what you ‘should do’ rather than what you ‘can do’,” they said.
“Coronavirus is spreading faster and wider in Wales than at any other point in this pandemic. Our public services are under intense pressure as they work around the clock to care for and keep people safe.
“Frontline workers are putting our health and care first, every day but as the virus continues to spread, so too does the strain on our NHS. We must do everything we can to protect our NHS and save lives.
“The virus is also having a major impact on our emergency services.
“Over the coming days and weeks, we need to make sure they are there for those who really need them – for real emergencies.
“Thank you so much to all of you who continue to follow the rules.”
They added that the new, variant strain of the virus that can be passed on more easily meant that chances of catching and spreading the virus had also increased.
“To keep yourself and your loved ones safe this Christmas, please avoid mixing wherever possible,” they said.
“For most people the virus will cause a mild illness but there are many – our parents and grandparents – who are at risk of serious illness or death if they catch it.
“Too many families have already lost loved ones to this terrible virus – if we don’t act now, even more deaths will follow.
“Our actions and decisions over the festive period, and in the coming weeks and months, will shape Wales for years to come.
“Please, let’s all think carefully before we act and protect our public and emergency services so they’re there for when we really need them.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford yesterday confirmed that over 600 people in Wales have tested positive for the new aggressive variant of COVID-19 but warned the true number of infections is likely to be much higher.
On Saturday new restrictions were announced in Wales and across the rest of the UK due to the rapid spread of the new strain, which was first detected in the southeast of England in September.
The variant is believed to be to 70% more transmissible than the original virus and scientists have predicted it could increase the R number, which indicates if an epidemic is growing or shrinking – by up to 0.4.