First Minister warns UK is in third Covid wave and 'facing a serious public health situation'

  • Catch up with the Welsh Government's press conference

Wales' First Minister has warned that the UK is seeing a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, adding: "Once again, we are facing a serious public health situation."

Mark Drakeford warned that the new variant of Covid-19, known as the Delta variant, is now in widespread circulation in Wales and other parts of the UK, with numbers expected to rise.

He said this has resulted in "a sustained, week-on-week increase" in the rate of coronavirus cases across Wales.

The number of new cases of the Delta variant in Wales has risen to 488, according to the latest figures from Public Health Wales.

This is a rise of 173 cases since the last update on 14 June, with every health board in Wales reporting cases of the variant.

Two weeks ago, there were 97 confirmed cases, most of which were linked to clusters in north and south-east Wales.

The Delta variant has also been confirmed as the dominant strain in Wales.

Mr Drakeford said: "The variant is now in widespread circulation. More than two-thirds of new cases are from community contacts.

"In the space of just a few weeks, the Delta variant has entered Wales and quickly spread throughout the country. There is sustained and accelerating transmission, not just in north and south-east Wales but in all parts of Wales.

"Once again, we are facing a serious public health situation.

"Our scientific advisers believe the UK is now in the pre-peak stage of a third wave of the pandemic.

"Wales may be two to three weeks behind what is happening in England and in Scotland, where tens of thousands of cases have been confirmed, there is widespread transmission and reports of increased hospital admissions."

Mr Drakeford's comments came as he led the Welsh Government's coronavirus press briefing on Friday.

He also announced some minor changes to coronavirus rules in Wales, but said there will be a four-week delay to further easements.

"This four-week pause will allow us to focus on vaccinating even more people, to help us to manage the impact of this new wave of infections," he said.

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