THERE are continuing signs the ongoing lockdown is bringing down coronavirus case numbers in Gwent and across Wales, the first minister said on Friday.

"We can now say confidently that cases are falling in all areas of Wales," Mark Drakeford said. "Overall the seven-day case rate for Wales has dropped from over 650 [cases per 100,000 people] before Christmas to around 270 cases per 100,000 people."

Next week, ministers are due to review the lockdown measures – as they do every three weeks – but Mr Drakeford said the chances of lifting restrictions in a week's time were at best "marginal".

South Wales Argus:

Community transmission is falling, but there needs to be a clear improvement in the situation faced by the NHS in Wales, he added.

"The [infection] rate is falling in all health boards right across Wales – including in north Wales where a highly-contagious strain of the virus has become so dominant," he said at Friday's Welsh Government coronavirus press conference.

"But despite that promising picture, these are still very high rates. Around 16 per cent of tests are still coming back positive, which demonstrates that there is still a lot of infection happening in the community."

He added: "We need to see that fall happen also in our NHS to alleviate the pressures that the health service is seeing.


"We have some encouraging early signs that the number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus is starting to stabilise, but as of today we still have very high numbers in hospitals with Covid-19.

"Our critical-care units, particularly, remain under enormous pressure."

Mr Drakeford said the "encouraging signs" that community transmission was falling was down to the collective effort being made in line with the public health rules.

"All of that is because of the hard work that goes on across Wales; by the efforts each one of us is making every day, and the sacrifices that go alongside that," he said.

"That is what is helping to bring the virus under control. Thank you for staying at home, for protecting the NHS, and for helping us all to save lives."

He added: "Vaccination offers us a path away from the current public health crisis, but for the moment we must all carry on working together to slow the spread of this awful virus."