New “fast moving strain” driving growth in North Wales Covid infection rates
Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething has said the new strain of Coronavirus identified just before Christmas is behind the spike in cases seen in Flintshire and Wrexham.
During the first Welsh government press briefing of 2021, Mr Gething said: “We continue to face a very serious situation.”
“The new highly infectious strain of Coronavirus which was identified just before Christmas is spreading quickly throughout Wales, cases of the virus remain very high.”
Overall infection rates “have fallen back from the incredibly high levels we were seeing just before Christmas.”
“Overall incident rate for Wales has fallen from a higher 636 cases per 100,000 people on December 17 to 446 cases today. This is still far too high.” He said.
“There have been falls in most parts of Wales, except in North Wales, where we’re seeing cases rise quickly.” We believe that this is because of the new fast moving strain.”
“It’s too early to know if the falls [in other parts of Wales] are because of the Christmas period and fewer people coming for testing, or if they are early positive signs of a sustained slowing in this awful virus.”
“We continue to be cautious though because while the number of people being tested has fallen, the testing positivity rate remains very high at 25% across Wales.” He said.
Asked why Wrexham and Flintshire appear to be more susceptible to the new variant compared to other areas of Wales.
The health minister said: “The susceptibility is about where the new variant is, it’s then about transmission within the community and because it’s a more aggressive, faster spreading variant than what’s called the wild variant, that’s the reason why it spreads .”
Mr Gething said the danger is the new variant is “seeded everywhere” and could eventually become the dominant strain, as it appears to be in the whole of the East of England.”
“This really is about understanding and tracking where it is, we know more about North Wales because of where some of Lighthouse samples get sent.
“More North Wales samples get sent to the Lighthouse Labs who can test for a change in the structure, that allows us to understand this new variant.” Mr Gething said.
“We aren’t completely sure about picture in the South Wales, that’s why Public Health Wales are working with colleagues in England to make sure we have a representative group from South Wales to understand how far the new variant has spread.
“When we publish our scientific update of the regular weekly update that we have been through the pandemic I expect we’ll be able to show more detail and I hope we can have a map within that to show where we’ve got confirmed cases. I do think that’ll show significant seeding across North Wales.” The health minister added.
Latest data from Public Health Wales shows that a further 91 positive Covid tests have reported in Flintshire today.
Between the 24th December and 30 December 808 people have tested positive for Coronavirus in Flintshire.
Latest data – as of Monday – shows 808 positive Covid cases recorded in the county in the past in the 7 days to Dec 30.
Over a quarter of all those going for tests in Flintshire are returning a positive result and the seven day rolling average is 517 cases per 100,000 population, ten times higher than when Flintshire was placed into a local lockdown on October 1.
You can view the full press conference here:
Cynhadledd i’r Wasg yn fyw nawr | Live Press Conference https://t.co/ifwRieuWkK
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) January 4, 2021
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