THE latest figures shows Covid is creeping back into Wales, with the number of people currently infected around three times higher than it was a month ago.

An estimated one in every 20 people in Wales currently has Covid, and new infections are being driven by a sub-strain of the Omicron variant.

At the beginning of June, the figure was one infection in around every 75 people.

Speaking today, health minister Eluned Morgan warned the nation is "in the midst of a new wave of infections" caused by the "fast-moving" new forms of Omicron which are spreading globally.

She also said "a large number" of NHS staff are currently off work because they have Covid - official data puts that figure at around two per cent this week. 

In recent weeks, health boards have ramped up their own protections and policies for hospitals, but Ms Morgan said these new measures would not be enforced via new Covid regulations.

"Some hospitals have taken the difficult decision to restrict visiting to prevent coronavirus from spreading among patients and staff; others are asking all visitors to wear face coverings," she said.

"We are not making face coverings mandatory in health and care settings , but I would encourage everyone to wear one if they are visiting a healthcare setting and I would also ask people to consider wearing a face covering in crowded indoor public places, while cases of coronavirus are currently high."

Ms Morgan also said free lateral flow tests would be available in Wales for people with Covid symptoms until the end of July, marking a one-month extension to the original end of the policy.

Omicron first arrived in Wales in the winter, and while it was more easily transmissible than previous strains of the virus, it was generally less likely to make people seriously ill.

The nation's defences against the pandemic had, by that time, been bolstered by the vaccine rollout, although Omicron's arrival did prompt the acceleration of the third-dose booster jab programme.

Public Health Wales reports the current dominant variant in Wales is the BA.5 variant of Omicron, which along with BA.4 is causing what Ms Morgan called "a surge in infections across the UK" and internationally.

The estimated prevalence of coronavirus in England is currently around one in 25 people, and in Scotland it is around one in 17 people.