MARK Drakeford has warned Wales’ services could soon come under pressure again as delta variant coronavirus cases have more than doubled in Wales in a week.
The first minister warned that the new Covid variant was “spreading freely” across Wales.
He told the Welsh Government’s coronavirus briefing today that numbers of the variant had more than doubled, from fewer than 500 last Friday to around 1,100 today.
Mr Drakeford also warned that the variant, which is 40-80 per cent more transmissible than previous variants, could drive up hospital admissions in the next month.
Describing the “serious situation”, the first minister said: “The Delta variant has continued to move quickly.
“There are around 1,100 cases and that number is rising.
“The all-Wales case rate is also rising, driven by the Delta variant.
“The latest information is 15 people have been admitted to hospital as a result of the variant.
“Fortunately these numbers remain low at the moment, but we have to be prepared to see them rise just as they have done in England and Scotland.”
The spread of the Delta variant in Wales remains between two and three weeks behind the spread in other parts of the UK, Mr Drakeford said.
But he warned that if cases grow in Wales as they have in England, where there are now more than 102,000 Delta variant cases, “then our services will come under pressure once again”.
“The increases in cases of the variant in England have been highest in young people who have not yet been vaccinated and who have more contact with other people,” he added.
“That pattern is starting to be seen in Wales.
“Cases among people 60 and over are either static or rising very marginally.
“The rise in the under 25s is accelerating much faster.
“For people under 25 the Covid rate is 67 per 100,000, and for over 60s it is just nine per 100,000.
“What this may be telling us is that we are seeing the positive impact of the vaccination programme – slowing down the spread of the virus across the age ranges.
“That is why we are working so hard in focusing our vaccination programme to get as many people as possible two doses in the four weeks in which we have paused restrictions lifting.”