Ignoring social distancing rules and more people socialising outside their extended household is believed to be behind an increase in coronavirus cases in Cardiff.
A total of 47 positive tests in the last week were in Cardiff, which amounts to 37% of all new cases in Wales over the last seven days.
Public health officials have highlighted a “notable” increase in cases among young people in their 20s and 30s, with failing to social distance by staying two metres apart and socialising outside chosen extended households thought to be behind the rise.
Cases in Cardiff have risen to 12.8 per 100,000 of the population – a key metric used by Public Health Wales (PHW) – over the past week.
Fiona Kinghorn, executive director of public health for Cardiff and the Vale, said most of the cases have been from a small number of clusters, but they should serve as a stark reminder that there is no room for complacency.
“Most of the cases have been associated with a small number of clusters we have been actively investigating and managing”, she said.
“However, these increases show how quickly the position can change and should serve as a stark reminder that the virus is still present in our communities, and that there can be no room for complacency.
“As national lockdown measures continue to be eased it is vital we all recognise that the virus is spread by people, and that we all take our responsibility to each other seriously.
“There is a notable increase in cases among young adults in their 20s and 30s. While some younger adults may feel that Covid doesn’t affect them and be keen to return to socialising as they did before the pandemic, they should know that it is failing to maintain social distancing and not sticking to chosen extended household groups that appears to be causing this increase.
“It is easy to slip back into how we used to live our lives but we must remember to keep our distance, continue regular handwashing, and in situations where this isn’t possible to stay two metres apart and wear a face covering. All of these measures have been proven to be effective in recent months.”
PHW figures show the Vale of Glamorgan, by comparison, is 3.0 for the same period, while Merthyr Tydfil has the second highest number of cases per 100,000 people: 11.6.
The increase in local case numbers in the Welsh capital has seen it move above England’s average, which was 11.9 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 on August 18. However, it is well below areas in England where local lockdowns or interventions were introduced; Birmingham, for example, was recently put on a “watch” list by Public Health England, with 31 cases per 100,000.
Just three new cases were reported in Cardiff on Monday, August 24 – you can see the full Covid-19 cases and deaths update here – but just a day earlier recorded 11 new cases – more than half of Wales’ total of 20 on Sunday, August 23.
It comes as further lockdown-easing measures were approved by the Welsh Government last week, with the number of households who can come together to form a single extended household doubling from two to four on Saturday, August 22. Households who enter the ‘bubble’ arrangement must remain exclusive, and can act as though they are part of one household: most notably, they do not have to social distance from each other and can meet indoors.
PHW incident director Dr Robin Howe told BBC Radio Wales it was a “concern” seeing an increase of cases, particularly localised around Cardiff.
“It is good that we are identifying them and the Test Trace Protect scheme is kicking in and bringing those cases under control and making sure that all contacts are identified and isolated.
“Just because we are able to go to shops and pubs, and people are increasingly going back to work, we still need to be vigilant and observe the social distancing of two metres wherever possible.”
He added other hygiene measures like hand-washing also need to be adhered to.
“Deaths usually reflect what is going on a number of weeks ago in terms the pandemic, and there is likely to be a small tail of cases, happening over the next few days and weeks,” he told BBC Radio Wales.
“We just need to ensure we keep the cases under control and it should mean that we don’t have further deaths.”
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is working together with Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan councils to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the region by testing and contact tracing, currently carrying out around 450 tests each day.
Once a new positive Covid-19 case has been detected, an individual is contacted to inform them their household should also be self-isolating, and they are asked to share information about their recent contacts.
The Cardiff and Vale ‘test, trace, protect’ team then alert individuals they have been in contact with someone with confirmed Covid-19.
Cardiff and Vale say it has followed up 98% of positive cases, and over the last six weeks 90% of these were carried out within 24 hours.
Anyone who develops a new continuous cough, a fever, or difficulty being able to smell or taste should self-isolate and book a coronavirus test online immediately.