Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Friday, February 26, as Wales’ top two doctors give the latest update on the hospital and health situation in Wales.
Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, and Dr Frank Atherton, chief medical officer for Wales, are speaking the day after the UK’s Covid alert level was downgraded.
The UK’s four chief medical officers have agreed the Covid-19 alert level should move from five – its highest – down to four as the risk of the NHS being overwhelmed within 21 days “has receded”.
The infection rate across Wales is now 75.4 cases per 100,000 population based on the seven days up to February 20, a slight drop on 75.7 cases reported on Wednesday. Infection rates have reduced to levels not seen since September but are now falling much more slowly than they were in January. Cases for your area here.
Public adherence to lockdown restrictions is continuing to reduce the size of the Covid-19 epidemic in Wales, latest scientific advice has concluded.
A new summary of advice published by the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Cell (TAC) has found that both the infection rate and the testing positivity rate are falling across the country.
The ‘R’ rate of infection is thought to be between 0.7 and 0.9, which means the case rate is dropping, while hospital occupancy is declining and is now around the level seen at the peak in April.
But there is a concern about an outbreak involving five adult wards at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.
The majority of planned operations have been cancelled at a hospital after 49 people had to be treated for coronavirus.
It comes as schools in Bangor have delayed their phased return by a week due to high case rates and neighbouring councils’ warnings to “be careful”.
Queen says vaccination ‘didn’t hurt at all’
The Queen has urged those hesitant about the coronavirus jab to get vaccinated, as the Government prepares to publish details on the next phase of the rollout.
The Queen has said her Covid-19 jab “didn’t hurt at all” as she encouraged those hesitant about vaccination to “think about other people rather than themselves”.
The head of state, who was inoculated in January, said after having the vaccine you felt “protected”, which she described as “important” during a video call with health leaders delivering the Covid-19 vaccine across the four nations.
Asked for “feedback” about her vaccination experience, she chuckled as she told the officials “it was quite harmless”.
During the conversation held on Tuesday, the head of state likened the coronavirus to a “plague” that has swept across the globe, and when a health leader said he wanted to “bottle” the community unity he had encountered the Queen suggested it was like the wartime spirit she experienced.
The Queen spoke to the four senior responsible officers overseeing the delivery of the vaccine in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to hear about the collaborative effort which has passed the milestone of 18 million people vaccinated in the UK since the call was made.
She praised the vaccine rollout, describing its speed and the millions inoculated as “remarkable” and in a morale boost told the health leaders to “keep up the good work”.
More information on vaccine rollout due
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected in the coming days to release its recommendations on the next phase of the vaccine rollout.
These next steps follow the top nine priority groups – including all over-50s – being offered the jab.
Health minister Vaughan Gething has already announced that every adult in Wales eligible for coronavirus vaccine will receive a jab by July 31.
The independent advisory committee is understood to have recommended that prioritisation should continue down the age ranges, with people in their 40s invited next for a jab. Detailed update on vaccine rollout in Wales.
The move could come as a blow to those who have been campaigning for teachers, police officers and other frontline key workers to be next on the list.
In response, Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh criticised the Government: “It’s absolutely disgusting – they don’t give a damn about us.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel should hang their heads in shame.”
A Cardiff landlord’s message to Mark Drakeford
Across the border in England landlords are anticipating to re-open within a matter of weeks.
And further north in Scotland pub-owners are also expecting to start up trading again in some form by the end of April.
But here in Wales, no date has been given as to when the hospitality trade will be able to start planning to open their doors again.
When Mark Drakeford was asked by reporters what the industry could expect, he warned the re-opening of boozers would not be included in the next two three-week reviews, which will be on March 12 and April 2.
Now one Cardiff landlord has called on the First Minister to “listen to us” and asked for some more certainty.
St Canna’s Ale House landlord James Karran said: “I would say to Mark, he’s got to listen to us. Hospitality is a huge business for wales. He’s got to be willing to listen.
“And sometimes I feel that his attitude to the hospitality industry is that it’s an afterthought or it’s something he does not as a main priority.
“I understand there are other priorities but hospitality is hugely important so we want to be seen to be treated with respect and also to take us seriously.” Read more here.
Cases for your area by postcode:
First travellers to be released from hotel quarantine
Some of the first people to check into quarantine hotels are to be released on Friday morning.
From last Monday, UK and Irish nationals returning to England from a “red list” country deemed at high risk for Covid-19 have had to self-isolate in hotels for 11 nights.
Hotel “guests” have complained about the £1,750 fee for the stay, which is punishable by a fine of up to £10,000 or 10 years in prison if breached, according to the Government.
The rule applies to people returning to Scotland from any destination.
If travellers return a negative test on day two and day eight of their stay they are allowed to leave, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
Delivery driver Roger Goncalves, 23, who was among the first travellers to be medically impounded at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel near Heathrow Airport after arriving from Brazil, should be one of the first to taste freedom.
Another, businessman Wayne Kelly, 37, of Birmingham, said he feels “like I have been through a prison sentence” and said he could not wait to see his wife and children.
Another traveller, Zari Tadayon, 66, from north London, told the PA news agency on Wednesday she was “relieved” her quarantine was almost completed after arriving from Dubai last Monday.
Increase in unpaid hours because of homeworking, says TUC
The trend of people working from home because of the coronavirus crisis has led to an increase in unpaid hours, a new study suggests.
The TUC said its research showed the importance of balancing work with home lives.
Its annual study of overtime indicated that employers claimed £24 billion of free labour last year because of workers doing unpaid overtime.
The union organisation named today as Work Your Proper Hours Day, urging people to finish work on time.
More than three million people did unpaid overtime in 2020, putting in an average of 7.7 unpaid hours a week, said the TUC.
Teachers, managers and directors were among those putting in the most unpaid overtime, said the TUC.