THE RECENT spike in coronavirus cases in Newport is highly likely to be related to a bank holiday house party in the city, health minister Vaughan Gething has said.

The party led to 18 new cases of Covid-19 in the city, "which is at the heart of the rise", and infected people were known to then go on to other social gatherings.

With 67 cases in the last seven days according to Public Health Wales, Newport now has the fourth highest Covid-rate in Wales, with 43.3 per 100,000.

Those 67 cases, from 1,543 tests during the same period, also means that Newport has the highest rate of positive test results in Wales in the past week, at more than one case for every 20 tests (4.3 per cent).

Asked whether Newport is likely to go into lockdown soon, Mr Gething said: “It depends on the data and whether we can understand the routes of infection - and if we can target that group rather than a whole community.

“I’ve spoken with the leader of Newport council this morning, and there is no set timeframe.”


He stressed people need to "think about their own choices", and that businesses in Newport and elsewhere are being closely monitored by the council and the government to ensure they are complying with guidelines.

On whether he regrets opening schools in Newport following a significant number of children now in isolation, he said: "It has gone relatively smoothly so far in relation to what we were expecting.

"Staff are at more risk of each other and picking it up from community transmission than they are picking it up from pupils."

South Wales Argus: Picture: Welsh Government. Shows the rising rate of infection in Caerphilly and Newport in comparison to others south Wales hotspotsPicture: Welsh Government. Shows the rising rate of infection in Caerphilly and Newport in comparison to others south Wales hotspots

He said schools will not shut before others measures have been used, including taking steps to restrict pubs' opening hours, or only allowing pubs to serve alcohol with meals.

“We want to keep schools open so other closures would take place first to protect our ability to keep children in school," he added.

“Because we know the significant harm it does to children's wellbeing in the here and now, from having schools closed, as well as the harm to their future prospects.”

Newport council leader Jane Mudd said: “Our priority is to protect our residents and prevent the need for further restrictions across the city - the likes of which we have seen in neighbouring authority areas.

“Again, I make an urgent plea to every resident of Newport and every visitor to our city to act now to reduce the spread of the virus."