How is the rate of coronavirus changing in Wales?

At the start of the fire-break period on October 23, there were 44,712 cases of Covid in Wales. Credit: PA

The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise across Wales with health bosses warning hospitals are struggling to deal with the demand for services.

Wales recorded its 100,000th confirmed case of Covid since the start of the pandemic at the weekend.

Figures from Public Health Wales show that the number of positive cases in the country has more than doubled since the last week of October when the Welsh Government announced a fire-break to try and slow the transmission of the virus.

At the start of the fire-break period on October 23, there were 44,712 cases of Covid in Wales.

Less than two months on, those figures have more than doubled with 101,953 on Saturday, December 12.

Staff working on intensive care wards, where some of the sickest patients wit Covid-19 are treated, are calling for the government to reverse their decision to allow households to form bubbles over the Christmas period, saying it will cause further loss of lives.

What are the figures saying about coronavirus in Wales?

Data shows that the the number of cases reported each week has exceeded the levels before the fire-break lockdown in October.

Graph showing the percentage of positive results in Wales.

The figures show that the positivity rate - the number of tests that are returning a positive result - is at its highest for the week beginning December 7.

The positivity rate from the latest week is at 20.40% in Wales, meaning one in five people in Wales who get tested for the virus are positive. The week before the fire-break, the rate was 19.90%.

The fire-break period ended on November 9 and the positivity rate dropped to 12.40% indicating that the regulations that were introduced had a positive effect.

The graph then shows a steady increase again over the weeks after before reaching the highest point of 20.40% in early December.

Which areas have been worst affected by the virus?

There are some regions that have been hit harder by the pandemic, with the positivity rate reflecting case numbers.

Areas in the Cwm Taf Health Board region have been significantly affected by coronavirus, with towns in the area having some of the highest positivity rates throughout the pandemic.

The latest data for the last seven rolling days (7 - 11 December) shows Merthyr Tydfil has a positivity rate of 31.1% and Rhondda Cynon Taf has a positivity rate of 23.9%.

Swansea has a positivity rate of 26.7%% and Cardiff has 20.2%. Some rural areas in Wales have had much lower positivity rates with Pembrokeshire and Gwynedd having 12.4% and 6% respectively.

Are cases rising because there is more testing across Wales?

Figures show that there is an increase in the amount of testing that is being done across the country.

Just over 44,000 tests were carried out the week beginning 28 September, compared to 67,000 at the end of November.

Mass testing officially start in Merthyr on November 21 after a significant rise in the number of cases in the region.

The figures show that the number of tests carried out in Wales has been increasing over recent weeks.

What was said about figures when the fire-break lockdown was announced?

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said that the figures in late October were "worrying" and that the fire-break was designed to protect lives whilst ensuring NHS services could cope with a rise in people needing hospital treatment.

With the number of cases and the positivity rate reaching similar, levels there are concerns that another national lockdown is needed.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said that the fire-break would help "protect lives". Credit: Welsh Government

Speaking at a Welsh Government press conference at the time of the October fire-break he said: "It is with a heavy heart that I once again ask everyone to stay at home and businesses to shut.

"We are all tired of coronavirus and the many rules and regulations we all have to live with.

"We all want to see an end to this pandemic and our lives returned to us and this is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer – and damaging – national lockdown.

"We have a small window of opportunity to act."

Could we see another national lockdown in Wales?

There have been questions asked of the Welsh Government over whether we could see another national lockdown to further control the spread.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Wales' health minister Vaughan Gething said that "every option" was available and whilst it was not government's preference to change Christmas restrictions, but decisions would be made to "keep people safe".

He said, "Every option is still available to us. We'll continue to have those discussions. We'll continue to take evidence from the chief medical officer; from our scientific advisors. We'll also, crucially, take evidence from the chief executive of NHS Wales about the reality of service pressures.

"We'll then have to make balanced choices. We have to think about the real-world impact in terms of both lives and livelihoods. These are not straightforward choices."