'Tentative early signs' that Welsh coronavirus measures are working

Mark Drakeford said there are signs that cases of coronavirus are starting to fall. Credit: Welsh Government

There are some "tentative early positive signs" that Wales' coronavirus response is having a positive effect, first minister Mark Drakeford has told a press conference.

Mr Drakeford said while won’t know the full impact for a couple of weeks yet, the early signs "give us some hope".

He told journalists: "We are beginning to see some signs that cases of coronavirus are starting to fall from the very high levels we have seen over the last few weeks.

"The all-Wales level has fallen back from 250 cases per 100,000 people to just under 220 cases.

"In Merthyr Tydfil, where we had seen rates as high at 700 cases per 100,000 people, we are now seeing rates of around 520 – this is still too high, but a positive fall.

"Mobility data shows large increases in people staying at home during the firebreak – similar to the levels seen in May."

Watch: Mark Drakeford leads Welsh Government press conference

But the first minister also warned that the number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus is continuing to rise.

There are more than 1,400 coronavirus-related cases in hospital, which is higher than the April peak. 

He added: "Sadly, we are still seeing high numbers of deaths being reported by Public Health Wales every day.

"Until we get coronavirus under control, we are likely to continue to see this continuing."

This weekend marked a grim milestone as Public Health Wales recorded its 2,000th coronavirus death.

Describing it as a "truly terrible" virus, Mark Drakeford continued: "It hits us hardest where we are most vulnerable – in our love for family and friends. People are being taken before their time. Families are losing parents, children, brothers and sisters.

"The cruelty of coronavirus is lived out in the pain and suffering of all those families. Yesterday, the thoughts of so many people in Wales were with you all.

"The fire-break period is now over. But coronavirus is very much still with us."

New coronavirus regulations begin today in Wales as the fire-break ends. Credit: PA Images

Wales' 17-day fire-break lockdown has come to an end, with new national rules in place from today to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

During the fire-break people were not able to meet with anyone they do not live with, non-essential businesses were closed and some year groups were not allowed to return to school after the end of half-term.

Under the new regulations people can now travel anywhere they want within Wales, all businesses - including pubs, hairdressers and gyms - have been allowed to reopen, and people are now able to reform 'bubbles' with one other household.

The national measures will be reviewed in a fortnight.

Mr Drakeford added: "Our success lies in the hands of every one of us and how we act from now on. This means we cannot go back to normal.

"We all need to make changes to our lives and adapt to this virus so we reduce our risk of catching it or passing it on.

"Coronavirus is highly infectious – it thrives on contact between people. To keep each other safe, we need to reduce the number of people we have contact with and the amount of time we spend with them.

"We all need to think about our own lives and how we can keep our families safe."

Asked if he was concerned by reports of crowds in Cardiff today, Mr Drakeford said: "I am not worried if it is being well managed and people are behaving in the right way.

"The fact that people want to do something today that they haven’t over the last two weeks isn’t a surprise to anyone."

People are reminded to:

  • Minimise the number of people we meet

  • Make sure our travel is essential

  • Work from home as much as possible

  • Maintain social distancing and good hand hygiene

Meanwhile, a Covid-19 vaccine has proven 90% effective in immunising against the virus, based on results from final "stage three" human trials.

The work of US drug giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech, developers said results showed "initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19."

Mr Drakeford welcomed the news but warned people not to expect a "magic bullet" for coronavirus.

He said: "It is good news of course if any of the vaccines in trial are making progress. I think you'd always want to read carefully what a particular competitor in this field says on its own behalf.

"I'm not going to be tempted to suggest this somehow means that there is a magic bullet on the horizon and coronavirus is about to disappear out of our lives."

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