Coronavirus: Delta variant cases rise by 84% in last five days in Wales

  • Charanpreet Khaira reports live from Merthyr

There has been a sharp rise in the number of people being diagnosed in Wales with the Delta variant of coronavirus, new data shows.

Latest figures published by Public Health Wales reveal an 84% increase from 97 to 178 in the number of cases of the variant, which first emerged in India, since last Thursday 3 June.

The Alpha variant, which originated in Kent, rose by 68 cases - 0.5% - compared to Thursday.

Public Health Wales said the public may slowly be beginning to experience localised community transmission of the variant, with increasing evidence of cases with no travel history.

"The majority of the Delta cases in Wales have been focused around a cluster of cases in North Wales and a cluster of cases in South Wales, but we are also starting to see unlinked cases in these areas and elsewhere in Wales." 

The majority of cases are located in clusters in both South Wales and North Wales, particularly in Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay where community testing has been increased.

  • Dr Giri Shankar from Public Health Wales says the increasing number of cases is a "cause for concern"

Last week, Dr Christopher Williams from Public Health Wales told ITV News although there is evidence the vaccine is effective against the new variants, there is still concern about the fast rate of transmission.

The Delta variant is said to be 40% more transmissible than the Kent strain.

Dr Williams said, "We're worried that if there's more and more transmission of it - and it does seem to be spreading faster than the previous variant - that might cause another wave of infections, with a knock-on impact to those who are unvaccinated, or those for whom the vaccine hasn't worked. So we want to avoid increased rates, and another wave of infection".

Latest data also shows half of all adults in Wales are now fully vaccinated Credit: PA

PHW also confirmed on Tuesday that more than half of adults in Wales are now fully vaccinated with 22 cases confirmed in the last 24 hours.

But while variant cases are on the rise, the number of deaths from Covid in Wales continues to go down as more people are vaccinated, with PHW reporting no new deaths from Covid for a 13th day in a row on Tuesday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which publishes figures of registered deaths in a wider range of settings where the virus is confirmed or suspected, reported just three deaths in the last week, the lowest number since September last year.

It comes as the First Minister said the government are on target to offer a vaccine to all over-18s by next week.

Wales now expects to reach 75% take-up for first jabs across all priority groups and age groups a month ahead of target. The original milestone was the end of July.

First Minister Mark Drakeford called it "a remarkable achievement" while Health Minister Eluned Morgan said no one will be "left behind".

The Welsh Government said it will ensure "no-one is left behind" in its vaccine programme Credit: PA

The focus will now move to maximising vaccine coverage for all by ensuring everyone receives a second dose by September.

Mr Drakeford said, “I am very proud to say that Wales has one of the best Covid vaccination programmes in the world.

“We will make the offer of vaccination to all eligible adults six weeks ahead of schedule and we expect to reach 75% take-up across all priority groups and age groups a month ahead of target.

“This is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to the hard work of all those involved in the programme – to all those doing the complex work of planning behind the scenes and to the thousands of people vaccinating and helping to run the clinics across the country.

“You are doing a fantastic job. I am incredibly proud and thankful for everything you are doing to help protect Wales from this awful virus.”