At the moment, the vast majority of coronavirus infections in Wales are caused by the delta variant. This is the form of coronavirus, which caused the large peak of cases earlier in the autumn. The rate remains high across Wales but it is currently stable at around 500 cases per 100,000 people.
The Welsh Government think delta will continue be the main cause of coronavirus infections in Wales up to Christmas – but this is the calm before the storm. We are seeing cases of omicron increasing every day in Wales – and across the UK. There are currently around 100 confirmed cases in Wales and they are in every health board area.
By the end of December, it will be the dominant form of the virus in the UK. This is a very fast-moving form of the virus, which is easily transmitted from person to person.
It has spread rapidly throughout England and Scotland, and because of how easily omicron is transmitted and its ability to infect large numbers of people, this could translate into large numbers of people being admitted to hospital. The omicron variant particularly likes big gatherings and enclosed spaces where it can easily move from person to person.
If you can, please reduce the number of people you meet, especially if you’re seeing older or more vulnerable people over Christmas.
- To stay safe in the run up to Christmas, we strongly advise everyone to follow these measures to stay safe:
- Get vaccinated – and if you’ve had your booster appointment, please make this your priority.
- If you’re going out, going Christmas shopping or visiting people – flow before you go. Take a lateral flow test. If it’s positive – don’t go out.
- Meeting outdoors is better than indoors. If you’re meeting indoors make sure it’s well ventilated.
- Space out your socialising – if you’ve got events arranged, please leave at least a day between them.
- And don’t forget about social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands.
Updated guidance about care home visiting will be published this week and the Chief Medical Officer will be writing to everyone on the shielding list about the steps they can take to protect themselves. The Welsh Government will also be changing the law to make it clear that people must work from home wherever they can.
Because the Welsh Government expect cases of omicron to increase rapidly after Christmas, we will introduce new protective measures on 27 December to help control its rapid spread and to prevent large numbers of people needing hospital care.
• These rules will be drawing on elements of the alert level two regime.
• Many of these will be familiar – they were used to keep businesses open in a safe way earlier in the pandemic.
• Shops, workplaces and businesses will re-open after Christmas but with new protections in place.
• There will be a strengthened set of reasonable measures, which will include returning to the 2m rule for social distancing.
• This means that shops, businesses and workplaces will need to make some changes to the way they operate – putting in place extra measures, such as one-way systems and physical barriers.
• Nightclubs must close from 27 December.
• We will have further discussions with sector representatives, our public health advisers and sporting bodies about events over the coming days.
• Financial support of up to £60m will be available to businesses materially affected by these new restrictions.
The Welsh Government are working with partners about how that support can most effectively be delivered and further details will be available as quickly as possible.
As always, you can get the very latest on the COVID-19 situation here in Wales at gov.wales/coronavirus