Covid in Wales: Omicron dominant variant as cases pass 600,000 – BBC News

January 16, 2022
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Omicron is now the dominant variant of coronavirus in Wales, the deputy chief medical officer has said.
Dr Chris Jones said an additional 12,000 Covid cases were reported in Wales over Christmas.
The number of Covid-19 cases in Wales has now surpassed 600,000.
"Our case rates were high before this Omicron wave started and our hospitals are already full as they try to deliver all the healthcare that's stacked up over the past year," Dr Jones said.
Figures for cases of the Omicron variant in Wales are not expected until 6 January.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales Breakfast about the situation, Dr Jones said: "Omicron has been increasing in Wales with a doubling time of less than three days.
"During the last two to three weeks it has gradually replaced Delta and is now the dominant variant, and because of that I expect we will see a further acceleration as Omicron continues its exponential growth."
He added there was concern Wales was now at "the beginning of a fourth wave of the pandemic" with a very transmissible version of the virus that is not affected by two doses of the vaccine "to a significant effect".
On Wednesday, Public Health Wales reported 5,929 new cases of Covid-19 and two more deaths – taking overall cases since mass testing was available in spring 2020 to 600,682 and deaths to 6,553.
Ceredigion council said cases were rising "at an alarming rate", and the area had "seen the largest increase across Wales in the last week".
It is now affecting 1,164 people per 100,000, with 846 confirmed cases in the past seven days, the council said.
Hywel Dda health board, which covers Ceredigion, said it had given 180,000 booster jabs in the past few weeks and was inviting all double-jabbed over-18s who had their last dose 13 weeks ago to attend mass vaccination centres for a walk-in booster appointment.
The Welsh government previously said walk-in appointments would only be available to specific groups of people.
Latest figures show 2,488,374 people have had their first dose, 2,300,054 a second dose and 1,559,687 a booster in Wales.
Rhondda Cynon Taf council said asymptomatic staff and secondary age pupils should take lateral flow tests (LFTs) on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday before returning in the new year, and again on their first day back.
But pharmacists across the UK have warned of "patchy supplies" of LFTs as cases rise.
Community pharmacist Richard Evans, who works in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, said while he had not run out of LFTs, supplies had been coming in "intermittently" over the past two weeks.
He said demand had "shot up", adding: "If people can't get the tests the fear then is that they will want to socialise or visit relatives who may be at risk, and if they haven't tested they may be taking the variant with them."
On Tuesday, Public Health Wales (PHW) reported 12,378 cases and three deaths with Covid in the 48 hours up to 26 December.
But PHW incident manager Dr Giri Shankar warned it was still too early to see the full impact on case rates of people mixing with family and friends on Christmas Day.
Royal College of Nursing director in Wales Helen Whyley said rising cases in the community also meant rising cases among the workforce.
"I've been listening to nursing staff over the Christmas period and the biggest issue that they're facing is the fact that their colleagues aren't well and that means, of course, that people are not coming in to work ," she told BBC Radio Wales.
"On top of a significant number of nursing vacancies, this is actually making some of our members quite desperate.
"They're feeling exhausted, they're being asked to work long days for a long time to try to cover these gaps."
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