Wales has 'weeks' to act or risks second national lockdown, health minister warns

Wales' health minister has warned the country has 'weeks' to act in the ongoing fight against coronavirus - or risk a second national lockdown.

Speaking at the Welsh Government's new three-times-a-week press briefing on the pandemic, Vaughan Gething said the pattern of increasing covid-19 cases in the country is "similar to the situation we faced in early February".

Experts have warned that "action should be taken now to prevent significant harm or another full lockdown," Mr Gething added.

It comes as a further 183 cases of covid-19 were reported in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 19,573.

Public Health Wales said no further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic remaining at 1,597 - although the true figure is likely to be higher.

Cases of coronavirus are going up overall in Wales, and there are a number of areas in south Wales where cases have risen sharply recently.

The Welsh Government is working closely with the local authorities of Caerphilly borough, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Newport to try to understand the reasons behind the rise in these areas.

Local restrictions were introduced in Caerphilly borough last week in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Both Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil local authorities introduced a series of local measures on Thursday to help control the rise in cases.

Meanwhile, people in Newport have been urged to stay vigilant for coronavirus symptoms after a rapid rise in cases, following a similar pattern to Caerphilly.

Face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces in Wales. Credit: PA Images

Across Wales, face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces and no more than six people from the same extended household can meet indoors, under new coronavirus rules introduced by the Welsh Government.

Mr Gething said there is a "limited period of weeks" to resolve some of the challenges faced by Wales, and urged people to stick to the rules.

"We appeal to people to reconsider the choices we're making, who we're seeing, and how many people we are seeing," he added.

"Because otherwise we may need to make more local lockdown choices, or potentially a national lockdown, with all the interruption that that causes."

Health minister warns of 'consequences' for covid rule-breakers:

Mr Gething also warned that there will be consequences for anyone deliberately flouting covid rules.

"The rules are here for the benefit of all of us, and they apply to all of us," he said.

The minister said he would prefer a 'four-nations approach' to any major decisions, but made it clear that the Welsh Government would be prepared to go it alone and impose further lockdown measures if necessary.

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