Deaths from coronavirus in Wales have now passed 3,000, according to Public Health Wales.
The agency’s latest figures, published on Friday, show another 38 deaths were reported in the previous 24 hours, taking the total during the pandemic to 3,011. A further 2,801 cases of Covid-19 took the country’s total to 117,367.
It comes after an extra 11,000 cases were added to the country’s total on Thursday, after maintenance work on Public Health Wales’s computer systems meant the numbers were not included on top of 11,911 positive cases reported between 9 and 15 December.
The country’s seven-day case rate is now 562.2 per 100,000 people, the highest of any of the four UK nations.
The latest figures came as Wales’s minister for mental health and wellbeing, Eluned Morgan, warned case rates could even go beyond 1,000 per 100,000 if the two-week-old restrictions on hospitality fail to “kick in”, blaming the ever-increasing rates on people mixing with others.
Lady Morgan told the Welsh government’s Covid-19 press briefing:
It’s still early days on that and we’re waiting to see if that will be translated into fewer cases. The bottom line, however, is that a lot of people are still mixing within households, and that is where the real problem lies.
So, unless people start to take their responsibility seriously and stop mixing with other households, then we are likely to see the worst-case modelling, which can go above 1,000 per 100,000. That is something we’re very concerned about.
She said Wales will enter its level 4 restrictions – effectively a lockdown – on 28 December “as one nation” despite some areas like Anglesey and Conwy having much lower levels of cases.
In Conwy, the seven-day case rate is 88.7 to 81.9, and in Anglesey the rate has fallen from 47.1 to 38.5, while Merthyr Tydfil has the highest rate of new cases in the UK, with 1,226.7 per 100,000 people.
But Morgan said “phasing coming out” of the restrictions would be considered depending on “how the virus will behave in the coming weeks”.
She said moving into the highest level of restrictions is aimed at ensuring the NHS does not become “overwhelmed”, but admitted that health boards across the country are experiencing “huge pressure”, resulting in a shortage of critical care capacity and three health boards suspending all non-urgent care.
Morgan also said substantial services will be put in place to ensure people are supported with issues of mental health over the winter months, and to help avoid a “crisis”.
These will include phone-based and online services, counselling and early intervention services, she said.