CORONAVIRUS rates in Gwent halved over the Christmas week.

The number of new cases per 100,000 residents fell significantly across the region in the week between December 21 and December 27.

According to the figures released by Public Health Wales, the number of cases in Newport, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly all halved, while there were dramatic drops in Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.

Wales was moved into new alert level four restrictions on December 19.

In the week from December 14 to December 20, the coronavirus incidence rate in Newport was 822.1 per 100,000. This dropped to 404.1 per 100,000 over Christmas.

It was a similar story for Caerphilly, which dropped from 787.0 to 371.6, and Monmouthshire, which fell from 476.8 to 236.8.

While not quite halving, the weekly rate in Blaenau Gwent for December 21 to December 27 was 486.7, down from 911.8 the week prior.

In Torfaen the incidence rate dropped from 718.4 to 450.2.

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However, a senior doctor has warned that "massive" numbers of coronavirus patients are in Welsh hospitals, added that the NHS in Wales was being "stretched to the limit".

Dr Andrew Landsdown, a consultant endocrinologist at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, said these were "unprecedented times".

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live Breakfast on Monday, he said: "In the past week or two things have become relentless, we're under extreme pressure and the numbers of patients coming through now with coronavirus are massive.

"My ward has recently turned into a coronavirus ward to make way for these patients and on the weekend [we had] to tweet for extra help because of the impact of that.


"It's not just the new variant, which seems to be spreading faster, you've also got the usual winter pressures at the hospital as well as staff themselves who are ill, self-isolating.

"The workforce really is a challenge, so we're very much feeling the pressure at the moment."

He added: "It's not the first time we've called on medical students to help. Certainly back in the first wave we used medical students and some people recently said it was a fantastic move, showing they are doctors in the making rather than doctors in waiting.

"It's really helped medical students and it's pulled staff together.

"We were so thankful for the offers of support and anyone who followed it would see that within hours we were able to close that tweet because of the response we had, which was overwhelming.

"I think that shows that during these times, people are pulling together and willing to help and that really helped with the staffing problem on the weekend."