Covid rates in Wales hit new record high

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The Covid pass scheme could be widened, as ministers consider how to combat infection rates in Wales

Covid rates in Wales have hit another new record high, according to health officials.

Figures published on Tuesday showed a rate of 719.9 cases for every 100,000 people over the last seven days.

The number of Covid cases in Wales remains the highest infection rate of all the UK nations.

But one of the heads of Public Health Wales said he felt the levels of infection were beginning to slow.

"We are looking at fairly high rates compared to other times in the pandemic response," accepted Dr Fu-Meng Khaw, who is the national director of health protection at PHW. "But I feel that we are plateauing."

He said the daily number of cases in Wales stood between 2,500 and 3,000 new infections.

Dr Khaw said all the models looking at the latest wave of Covid suggested it would begin to fall in the near future, despite the current high levels.

"I am confident that over the coming weeks we will start seeing a drop," he told BBC Wales.

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School-age students are showing the highest levels of Covid, says PHW

The latest number of positive cases reported by Public Health Wales (PHW) was 5,228 between Friday morning and Monday morning.

A further 31 deaths with Covid-19 have also been recorded, with 6,117 people dying with the virus since the start of the pandemic in Wales, according to PHW figures.

The health body said due to a technical issue reporting figures on Tuesday, not all cases of Covid reported in Wales in the last 72 hours had been flagged as new, and it was likely there had been about 8,000 actual new cases over the period.

Carefully monitored

Dr Khaw said the highest levels of Covid transmission were being seen among young adults and children in Wales.

He also said the rate of hospital admissions from Covid was increasing, and was being carefully monitored to ensure it was not down to new variants of the disease.

But he stressed there was "no evidence" that a new "variant of concern" was in circulation in Wales at the moment.

The highest infection rate is in Blaenau Gwent, at just under 1,330 cases per 100,000 over the last seven days.

Neighbouring counties in the Aneurin Bevan health board area also share high levels of Covid, with both Torfaen and Caerphilly nudging over the 1,000 infection rate.

Wrexham has Wales' lowest rate, at 368.5 cases per 100,000 people.

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Image caption,
Covid passes were introduced across Wales at the start of October for nightclubs and large events

First Minister Mark Drakeford said it was "right to be concerned" about the current Covid rates.

"There is far too much coronavirus circulating in the community", he said.

The Welsh government will announce its latest response to the pandemic on Friday, as part of a three-week review.

But ministers have said they were not considering moving into "Covid Urgent" - where social and business restrictions could be reintroduced.

However, Mr Drakeford added that if numbers continued to rise "we would all have to be asking ourselves serious questions about what we would need to do to bring numbers of that sort back under control".

Health Minister Eluned Morgan has already indicated they will consider whether the Covid Pass scheme introduced at the start of October should be widened.

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