MONMOUTHSHIRE County Council chief executive Paul Matthews has written an open letter to residents sharing his thoughts on the recent rise in cases in the county.

This week Monmouthshire – the only area in Gwent not currently subject to a local lockdown – recorded 19 new cases, including 13 on Thursday, although Mr Matthews said this is due to a slight backlog in cases they were working through.

In the week up to October 11 the county recorded 49 new cases – by far the lowest in Gwent, but up on the 33 cases the previous week, and 18 the week before.

The latest statistic for the rolling weekly 100 cases per 100,000 population is 53.9.

The council has begun releasing some information on how coronavirus is affecting residents more specifically.

On Tuesday, October 13, they reported – like last week – that the highest number of cases are in the Gilwern and Abergavenny areas.

South Wales Argus:

(Map shows where cases were in six days up to October 12. Picture: MCC)

Referring to the latest statistics on Wednesday, Mr Matthews said: “We have no active clusters of cases and no widespread community transmission.

“There is no evidence here of pubs or the wider hospitality industry being sources of infection.

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“Our reality is much more about transmission within families, people picking up the infection while working outside the county, students who are actually away but their registered home is in Monmouthshire, health care workers picking it up at work, and residents who are in hospital becoming infected.

“It is undeniable that we will continue to see more cases, because everywhere around is has higher rates than us.

“We have a very different geography than Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire because we sit at the centre of south east Wales and south west England, and we have millions of people passing through a 20 to 30-mile radius.

“We also know that in Monmouthshire the population group with the highest number of Covid cases is in the 50-59 age group. This is different to other parts of Gwent, where there is a younger demographic.

“We know that age is one of the markers for having a harder time with Covid, so that’s certainly one to watch.”

With a national short ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown now mooted for October 26, he added: “I think it’s likely that we will see the government reconsider some of the lockdown arrangements.

“There doesn’t seem to be much compelling evidence that the current arrangements are getting to grips with new cases and we know there tends to be a two-week lag between increased cases and increased hospital admissions.

“My instinct is something else needs to happen.”