HEALTH bosses have warned that the coronavirus pandemic has not gone away, after cases in Wales have risen to their highest level since April.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – released on Friday, July 1 – show an estimated 3.49 per cent of the Welsh population is testing positive for Covid – or just under one in every 29 people – in the seven days up to June 24.

This is a rise from previous week’s figure of 2.25 per cent – or one in every 44 people in Wales.

The figures are now the highest they have been since the week up to April 30, where it was estimated that 4.33 per cent of people in Wales – or one in 23 people – were testing positive.

According to the ONS estimates, the percentage of people testing positive for Covid has risen from 2.5 per cent to 3.35 per cent in England, from 4.76 per cent to 5.47 per cent in Scotland, and from 3.26 per cent to 3.87 per cent in Northern Ireland in the past two weeks which have been recorded.

Dr Mary Ramsay, director of clinical programmes at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “We continue to see an increase in Covid-19 data, with a rise in case rates and hospitalisations in those aged 65 years and over, and outbreaks in care homes.

“We can also now see a rise in ICU admissions in older age groups.

“Vaccination remains the best defence against severe disease and hospitalisation.

“Covid-19 has not gone away and we should all remember to keep up good hand and respiratory hygiene.

“It is also sensible to wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces.”

Across Wales, 575 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital on June 30, up 53 per cent from the previous week, according to ONS figures.

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the Covid-19 infection survey for the ONS, said the rise was likely driven by the latest Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.

“Across the UK we’ve seen a continued increase of over half a million infections, likely caused by the growth of BA.4 and BA.5 variants,” she said.

“We will continue to monitor the data closely to see if this growth continues in the coming weeks.”

Wales moved to alert level zero – lifting almost all legal covid restrictions – on March 28.

The final restrictions, which included wearing masks or face coverings in health and care settings, were eased on May 30.

However, the rising levels of coronavirus has caused the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board to reinstate the requirement for people to wear face coverings in all clinical areas of health board buildings.

In a statement on social media, a spokesperson for the health board said: “Due to the increasing prevalence of Covid-19 in the community, the increased number of Covid-19 ward outbreaks and the numbers of staff absent with Covid-19, we are asking all hospital staff and visitors to wear masks in clinical areas, with immediate effect.

“Thank you for your support and co-operation in reducing the risk to our patients and staff.

“We will continue to review the Covid-19 position in hospital and community settings, and will update accordingly.”