CRUCIAL differences between coronavirus and flu - notably a higher death rate for the former - have been highlighted by Wales' health minister today to illustrate why restrictions continue to be necessary.

As Wales begins its second week post-firebreak lockdown, Vaughan Gething sought to lay bare why it is so important that coronavirus is tackled head-on, and why people should take ongoing restrictions seriously.

"Some people believe the risk [from coronavirus] is exaggerated, and others believe actions we are taking are wrong," he said.

Addressing the different approaches to coronavirus and flu, he said there are some similarities between them, not least that both are very contagious. We are however, more "familiar" with flu, he added.

"Every year we have a flu vaccine, free to everyone at the greatest risk," said Mr Gething.

"Flu is a nasty virus that causes a nasty illness.

"Flu kills young and old alike."

He added that with flu, there are vaccines and we make changes to our behaviour during the winter, for instance avoiding people who are coughing and sneezing. We also have some immunity from flu.

But with coronavirus, said Mr Gething, "our bodies do not yet know how to fight it".


There have been more than 53.5 million cases worldwide and at least 1.3 million people have died of coronavirus, since the virus appeared late last year.

"Unlike flu, we do not have a vaccine, although many are in development," said Mr Gething.

"There are no treatments that can prevent coronavirus, but we have learned a lot.

"We don’t know if any people have immunity to coronavirus once they’ve had it, or how long that immunity could last. There’s evidence some people have caught coronavirus twice.

"Many people who have recovered from coronavirus are continuing to experience a range of health problems, and this is known as 'long covid'."

He added that around 15 per cent of people who contract coronavirus develop serious respiratory illness which requires oxygen therapy, and about five per cent become critically ill, higher rates than for flu.

He said too that research by Imperial College, London suggests an overall fatality ratio for coronavirus of around 1.15 per cent, whereas for flu, according to the World Health Organisation, the rate is 0.01 per cent, said Mr Gething.

He said Wales appears to be heading towards another large peak in coronavirus deaths this winter, which underlines the importance of following the rules.

In the first two weeks of November. Public Health Wales reported more than 250 deaths from coronavirus.

He called it a "very sobering number", representing many people "who have left behind loved ones".

"I hope these figures help explain why we are taking coronavirus so seriously," he said.