'Sobering' number of coronavirus deaths in November so far, says health minister

November has seen a 'sobering' number of coronavirus deaths so far and we are heading towards another large peak, the health minister has warned.  

In the first two weeks of this month, Public Health Wales has recorded more than 250 deaths from coronavirus.

Vaughan Gething said: "There was a large peak [of deaths] in the first wave and it would appear we are now heading towards another large peak this winter.

"I hope these figures help explain why we are taking coronavirus so seriously."

Mr Gething also said the ongoing autumn wave of cases has been rising sharply since the end of August.

He explained: "This wave has been so much bigger than the spring, because mass testing has been available and we have been able to detect cases in the community. In the spring, we were only able to test people in hospitals and care homes."

There are signs, however, that cases of coronavirus are continuing to fall.

Mr Gething said: "The seven-day incidence rate for Wales is now at around 160 cases per 100,000 people – a reduction of 70 from this time last week.

"In Merthyr Tydfil, which had the highest rates in the UK just over a week ago, the rate has more than halved to around 330 cases per 100,000 people.

"And in other parts of the south Wales valleys – in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Blaenau Gwent – where we also saw very high rates, the incidence rate is now less than 300 cases per 100,000 people."

The health minister described the downward trend as "positive".

People are urged to continue to take the virus seriously and follow safety measures. Credit: PA Images

Mr Gething urged people to continue to follow Covid safety measures and addressed some common misconceptions around the virus.

He said "Some people believe the risks from coronavirus have been exaggerated and others believe the action we are taking is wrong.

"We are not familiar with coronavirus. Our bodies don’t know how to fight it yet. This is a new virus, which emerged at the end of 2019 and has spread rapidly around the world."More than 53.5m people worldwide have been infected and at least 1.3m people have died in just over 11 months from coronavirus."Unlike flu, we do not have a vaccine for coronavirus – although there are many in development – and we do not have almost a century of experience in treating and managing coronavirus."There are no treatments, which can prevent coronavirus but we have learned a lot over the last 11 months. There’s lot of research ongoing into the virus itself and into new treatments."We don’t know if any people have immunity to coronavirus once they’ve had it or how long that immunity could last. There’s evidence some people have caught coronavirus twice.

"Many people who have recovered from coronavirus are continuing to experience a range of health problems – sometimes known as long Covid.

"The World Health Organisation’s figures suggest that 15 per cent of people who are infected with coronavirus will develop a severe illness, which requires oxygen therapy, and five per cent of people will become critically ill. This is higher than that seen for flu."And sadly, the death rate from coronavirus appears to be much higher than flu. Research by Imperial College London suggests the overall infection fatality ratio for coronavirus is 1.15 per cent. Mortality for seasonal flu is usually around 0.1 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation."

Read more: