PUBLIC health officials are confident that coronavirus numbers are reducing in Wales – but are warning the public not to get complacent.

The latest data shows that figures are heading down across the country as a whole – including parts of North Wales that were reporting dozens of new cases daily just weeks ago.

However, the positive news came with a warning for the public not to become complacent or the risk is run of numbers rocketing back up again.

Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales (PHW), said: “We are increasingly confident in the data which is showing a consistent downward trend in the numbers of positive cases in Wales.

“However, the number of cases is still extremely high, and this is placing extreme pressure on our NHS Wales hospitals.”

He went on to say that the UK coronavirus variant – first picked up in the Kent area of England – now accounts for many of the cases presently circulating in Wales.

Earlier this week, health minister Vaughan Gething said that this strain was responsible for about half (50 per cent) of cases in south and mid Wales. Meanwhile, it is thought to be circulating much more widely in North Wales – accounting for around 70 per cent of cases present.

Dr Shankar continued: “The UK variant of Coronavirus prevalent in many parts of Wales is up to 70 per cent more transmissible, and as reported last week there is evidence which suggests that it may lead to a higher risk of death than the non-variant.

“It is therefore vital that everyone continues to remain vigilant, by staying at home and sticking to the rules. This way we will avoid adding to the pressure on hospitals and will keep people safe.”

He went on to say that PHW is working with Public Health England and other UK partners to monitor the impact and spread of the UK variant, and to detect and monitor other virus variants.

The doctor added: “We continue to investigate and respond to the spread of the variant and its impact in Wales. Evidence is still emerging and more work is underway to fully understand how it behaves.

“It is important to remember that all current variants of COVID-19 are still spreading and can cause severe illness and death.

“Therefore it is important to stay at home, and to reduce opportunities for spread by keeping your distance, washing hands regularly, and covering your face.”