Covid-19 in Wales: Under-16s cases spike as rates climb

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School in Cardiff on 20 SeptemberImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Pupils started going back to school in Wales early in September - and cases among under 16s have now shown a rise

A spike in rates of Covid-19 in the under-16s is driving the latest overall rise in cases in Wales, figures from Public Health Wales (PHW) suggest.

Case rates among the under-25s have risen in all but two of Wales' 22 local authority areas over the last week, the figures also show.

Neath Port Talbot, with an overall case rate of 863.1 cases per 100,000 people, is the highest in the UK.

It also has the highest case rate among the under-25s in Wales.

When the case rates are broken down further, the PHW figures show the case rate in the 17 to 24 age group is now falling across Wales, but has rocketed in the last week for the under-16s.

Specific Covid figures linked to schools are not expected to be published this academic year but other recent figures - including a record number of positive lateral flow tests, boosted by school testing - suggest these are behind the high numbers.

Rising Covid-19 cases rates in under 25s in Wales. Rolling seven-day positive tests per 100,000 population.  Given weekly up to 16 September.

The figures covering Covid among younger age groups show:

  • Sixty-one per cent of the latest daily positive tests are young people under 30 - the highest proportion since the start of July
  • Forty-two per cent are aged 10 to 19, suggesting a high proportion of school-age pupils
  • All but two of Wales' local authorities (Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire) showed a rise in the case rate among the under-25s in the last week.

Case rates among under-25s were highest in Neath Port Talbot (1,597.7 cases per 100,000 people) - 55% of all positive tests - and the area also saw the highest proportional rise over the week.

The second biggest rise came in Rhondda Cynon Taf, while Merthyr Tydfil also had higher than average positive tests among the over 60s.

Other areas with high case rates among the under-25s include Carmarthenshire (1,175.9 cases per 100,000, which is 52% of all positive tests).

These all underpin the overall case rate rises we've seen in these areas.

Wales' case rate has risen to 551 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days.

The number of cases seen each day are at an average of 2,482 - up from 2,257 the week before. The "doubling time" is 31 days.

Where are the cases at a local level?

There are growing numbers of community hotspots - 24 have case rates above 1,000 cases per 100,000. These are topped by Tylorstown in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Pontardawe in Neath Port Talbot.

The lowest local authority-level case rate is in Monmouthshire, where the local community of Raglan & Llantilio Crossenny has seen only five positive tests over the past week.

Covid-19 tests in Wales. Number of weekly authorised tests.  Care home test figures to nearest comparable week.

A week of record testing

We have just seen a record number of tests in Wales, driven in part by record numbers of positive lateral flow tests, which include school tests.

These eventually feed into the main testing figures, after follow-up PCR results.

At the second wave peak last winter, we saw 21,300 PCR tests a day in Wales, but the average is now above that at about 24,900 tests a day.

For the second week running we have had a record number of tests processed, and 15 September saw the highest number of tests authorised in a single day at 27,836.

Hospital figures slightly up but well below last winter

The daily average number of confirmed hospital admissions is 501, up slightly on Tuesday.

But the number of those in hospital is a third of what it was at the same point during the second wave

There were 50 Covid patients in critical care on Tuesday - up from 47 a week ago.

The daily average of Covid admissions is 37 across Wales, a slight reduction on last week (41).

Ten more deaths reported

Ten deaths with Covid-19 were reported by PHW on Wednesday. Four of these were reported in the Hywel Dda health board area, three in Cwm Taf Morgannwg and one in each of the Aneurin Bevan, Betsi Cadwaladr and Swansea Bay areas.

There was one death which occurred on Sunday, two last Saturday, four last Friday, two last Thursday and one more than a week ago.

Fourteen deaths occurred a week ago, on Wednesday15 September, which is the highest daily figure under the PHW measure since 21 February.

There have been 43 deaths occurring in the last seven days - an average of six deaths a day.

The number of deaths are still well below the same point during the second wave.