Wales health minister Vaughan Gething has warned Wales’ NHS is “under considerable and sustained pressure” as coronavirus cases and admissions to hospital soar.
Wales now has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the UK – with 267.8 cases for every 100k people in the last week, compared to 149.5 in England, 143.6 in Northern Ireland and 100.3 in Scotland.
Mr Gething said that there were now eight local authorities in Wales with rates higher than 400 cases per 100,000 people – four times as many areas as on Friday. Follow live updates from his press conference here.
He added that there are now more than 1,800 coronavirus-related patients in hospitals around Wales – the highest number ever recorded.
He said: “Sadly, we are seeing a return to the very high rates of more than 500 in Blaenau Gwent and 600 in Neath Port Talbot.
“Cases are rising in 19 of our 22 local authority areas.
“We are continuing to see these high levels of coronavirus in our communities translate into record numbers in our hospitals.
“Our health service is under considerable and sustained pressure because of the number of people who need to be admitted to hospital for treatment for coronavirus.”
Asked about further restrictions in Wales, he said that another fire-break lockdown was not off the table for after the Christmas period.
In relation to whether restrictions would be considered before Christmas, he said that there would be a review of the current restrictions next week and that it would take several days to see what the impact of the restrictions on hospitality had been.
Mr Gething said that almost 1,100 people were in hospital with confirmed coronavirus – and a quarter would need to be in hospital for at least three weeks or more.
“Some will need even more time – and expert care – to recover properly,” he said.
He urged people to take personal responsibility and to follow the rules to protect the health service and staff who work in it.
He said: “If we are going to be successful in controlling the spread of the virus, we need everyone’s help.
“One of the most important things we can do is to stay at home and self-isolate if – and as soon as – we have any symptoms of coronavirus.”
He said: “Isolating isn’t easy. We ask everyone to do this because the evidence suggests we are at our most infectious a couple of days before symptoms appear and a couple of days after.”