CHANGES are being made in Wales to counter the threat of the newly identified Omicron variant - and more are almost certainly on the way.

One of the main themes of Tuesday's Welsh Government covid briefing was how little is known so far about the Omicron variant identified on Friday, other than it poses a high risk of reinfection.

There is a great amount of uncertainty about how damaging the new variant could be and what restrictions should be made, if more need to be enforced.

But, with it being only a matter of time before the Omicron variant reaches Wales, measures have been swiftly introduced this week.

The vaccination programme has been stepped up and face coverings will be required in secondary schools and colleges.

More clarity on the situation is expected in the coming weeks as more information becomes available on the Omicron variant - and it is unlikely but not impossible that any major changes to covid measures in Wales will be announced ahead of the next review at the end of next week.

It means people in Wales are waiting nervously to find out if restrictions will come into force before Christmas.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan.

During the briefing, led by Heath Minister Eluned Morgan with Dr Gillian Richardson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, they were offered hope by the Welsh Government policy of wanting to keep society - including schools and businesses - open for as long as possible.

Ms Morgan said that schools will be kept open for as long as possible.

She said that the government is aware of the damage school disruptions can have on children, both for their education and mental health.

She also stressed that the government is "sensitive" to the difficulties that businesses are facing in a crucial time for them - the Christmas trading period. However, she said that the government has to "balance the needs of keeping our people safe, making sure the NHS is not overwhelmed, with our responsibility to keeping society open and the economy going".

Ms Morgan added: "Never has there been a more important time for us all to work together to protect our families.

"We need to keep doing the small things which have kept us safe throughout the pandemic.

"That means getting vaccinated, isolating and getting tested if we have symptoms."

Ms Morgan said that any restrictions will be decided after the usual 21 day review.

She said "it is too early to say" what the situation will be in at Christmas time.

However, she stressed that if the situation changes, a decision may have to be made.

"We're not doing this for fun. We're doing this to keep people safe", the health minister said.

Ms Morgan added that there is a "responsibility to keep our society open for as long as possible" but if the situation changes then the Welsh Government will have to adapt.

Until then the public are again urged to take precautions that we should all be familiar with now, such as wearing face masks and isolating when symptoms begin to appear.