No 'significant easing' of lockdown restrictions at end of the month, says Health Minister

The Health Minister warned that coming out of Level 4 restrictions "too soon or too fast" could result in "a rebound in Covid rates". Credit: PA Images

There will be no "significant" changes to lockdown rules here in Wales at the end of the month, the Health Minister has confirmed.

The Welsh Government is due to formally review the Level 4 lockdown Wales is currently in by January 29.

Vaughan Gething said on that date, "no one should expect any sort of significant easing" despite Covid-19 case rates falling across the country.

Public Health Wales figures show the seven-day incidence rate for Wales has dropped to 285 cases per 100,000 people, while the percentage of people testing positive has reduced to 16.7%.

Mr Gething told a press conference on Wednesday that "real falls" were being seen in cases of Covid-19 across Wales, including north Wales.

The coronavirus incidence rate in Wales has fallen below 300 cases per 100,000 for the first time in a number of weeks.

On Wednesday there were a further 44 suspected coronavirus deaths reported by Public Health Wales. There were 1,283 new confirmed coronavirus cases.

However Mr Gething added that virus numbers were still high and the Welsh NHS is still under a huge amount of pressure.

He said that pressure on critical care in Wales had eased slightly but was still operating at almost 150% of its capacity.

Coming out of Level 4 restrictions "too soon or too fast" could result in "a rebound in Covid rates", warned the Health Minister.

Wales entered Level 4 restrictions - a national lockdown - on December 20.

We could end up doing something that overwhelms our health service with all the harm that that would cause.

Vaughan Gething MS, Health Minister
Figures published on Wednesday show that 175,816 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have now been given in Wales. Credit: PA Images

Mr Gething re-iterated that the vaccination rollout is the Welsh Government's "number one priority."

Almost 176,000 people in Wales have now had their first dose of the vaccine.

While that's more than 10,000 a day it is still some way off the amount needed for the Welsh Government to hit their targets to get the highest priority groups vaccinated by mid-February.

Public Health Wales said a total of 175,816 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had now been given, an increase of 13,884 on the previous day's figure.

The agency said 370 second doses were also given, an increase of 105.

People queue at a Welsh vaccine centre. Credit: PA

Vaughan Gething said that more than 5% of people in Wales have received Covid-19 jabs and the vaccination programme would "move up another gear" this week.

He said: "Supplies of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine have increased markedly – we expect to receive almost double the amount of vaccine this week as we had in the first fortnight.

He continued: "This means more people over 80 and more people living and working in care homes will be vaccinated in GP practices and by community nurses staffing the 14 mobile units.

"We are vaccinating almost 1,000 care home residents every day."

Mr Gething said a further 60,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would be provided for use in mass vaccination centres in Wales this week. 

  • Watch Wednesday's full Welsh Government press conference here: