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Wales to continue lockdown for 3 more weeks; schools may return next month

Rates of coronavirus across Wales have fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since November.

People chat on the High Street in Merthyr Tydfil.
People chat on the High Street in Merthyr Tydfil.
Image: PA

THE LOCKDOWN IN Wales is to remain in force for another three weeks, First Minister Mark Drakeford will confirm today.

He is also expected to say that primary school pupils may be able to begin returning to their desks after the February half-term if coronavirus rates continue to fall.

Level 4 lockdown measures came into force in Wales on 20 December.

The Welsh Government said the Covid-19 situation is “improving” but another three weeks of Level 4 restrictions are needed to “allow the NHS to recover”.

The Welsh Government said there could be a “phased and flexible return to school after 22 February if the public health situation continues to improve”.

A statement said: “Rates of coronavirus across Wales have fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since early November.

“And every day, thousands more people receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine – the latest figures show almost 11% of the population have been vaccinated.”

Authorities review the situation every 21 days, and on Wednesday chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said a Wales-wide easing of lockdown restrictions is unlikely until the end of February at the earliest.

The reproduction R value for the virus on Wednesday was said to be between 0.7 and 0.9, while figures from Public Health Wales showed that the country’s seven-day case rate stood at 204 cases per 100,000 people, down from 270 cases per 100,000 tomorrow.

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Wales has a population of around 3.1 million people.

Public Health Wales said yesterday that a total of 336,071 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had now been given, an increase of 23,766 from the previous day.

The agency said 674 second doses were also given, an increase of 35.

In total, 62.1% of those aged over 80 have received their first dose of the vaccine, along with 72% of care home residents and 75.8% of care home staff.

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