WITH CORONAVIRUS dominating the headlines for another year, and new stricter restrictions brought in once again in Wales on Boxing Day, it would be easy to lament a lack of progress over the past 12 months.

Wales returned to Alert Level Two, with nightclubs closing, and restrictions being placed on the number of people who can meet up in hospitality settings, public places, and both outdoor and indoor events.

In his New Year’s message, first minister Mark Drakeford said: “There will be better and brighter times ahead. Time to spend with friends and family – and time to make new memories.”

And prime minister Boris Johnson echoed this sentiment, saying: “Our position this December 31 is incomparably better than last year.”

So how does the position this New Year compare to that of the start of 2020.


When it comes to the restrictions in place, there has been some progress when compared to last year, even if it is not staggering.

On December 19, 2020, Mark Drakeford announced that the whole of Wales would enter tier four restrictions – or lockdown.

Previous plans on allowing household mixing over the Christmas period were shelved, now only allowing two households to meet indoors on Christmas Day.

All non-essential retailers, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres, and hospitality was closed with just a few hours’ notice.

This year, Wales moved back to alert level two on Boxing Day. This meant that nightclubs must close, supporters cannot attend professional sports matches, a maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events and a maximum of 50 people at outdoor events, and a maximum of six people can meet in public premises.

The stats

The bad news is that the number of positive cases recorded in Wales is much higher than last year.

In the latest Public Health Wales figures – covering the 24-hour period up to 9am on Thursday, December 30 – 1,841 new cases were confirmed in Gwent, while across Wales, 10,393 new cases were recorded.

By contrast, in the first Public Health Wales release of 2021 – which covered 48 hours up to 9am on January 2 – just 871 cases were confirmed in Gwent, and 3,811 in Wales.

On the face of it, that doesn’t look good, but in the latest Public Health Wales release, 11 people with coronavirus were confirmed to have died, compared to 41 on the same day last year.  

In the week up to December 30, 2020, 619 patients were in Gwent’s hospitals with either suspected or confirmed coronavirus, or recovering from Covid-19.

This year, however, in the seven days leading to December 26, 78 patients tested positive for coronavirus either prior to or on admission in Gwent, with an Aneurin Bevan University Health Board spokesperson saying that “a small number” of Covid patients were being cared for at The Grange University Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

The vaccine

Currently there are 2,302,282 people in Wales who are double vaccinated, while 1,626,146 people have also had their booster jab.

In Gwent – as of Sunday, December 26 – 435,387 people have had two doses of the vaccine, with 294,996 people have also had their booster jab.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said that the team at Newport Centre are currently vaccinating more than 2,500 people a day and the team at Cwmbran Stadium vaccinating are vaccinating 2,000 people a day.

This is a huge step forward from last year, where the vaccines only started being administered on December 8, 2020, and by January 6, 2021, only care home residents and their carers, over 80s and frontline health and social care workers were receiving the vaccine.