After Friday’s press conference, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said the peak of the Omicron wave was 10-14 days away.
During the briefing, Mr Drakeford outlined why he had put in place COVID restrictions and what was expected of the people of Wales.
In recent weeks, the current changes to the COVID rules have left many divided, especially over the rules for sporting events and self-isolation.
WellsOnline has compiled a list of six things you need to know about the current COVID conditions, what they mean and the key points to opt out of each claim.
Read more: Visit here to see all the latest COVID-19 news
‘Omicron variant causes a minor illness’
Although the Omicron variant is widely believed to be less severe than the major delta globally, scientists have said the coronavirus variant should not be classified as “mild”.
Preliminary studies showed that the variant had a lower risk of hospitalization when it was first identified in November in southern Africa and Hong Kong compared to Delta. On top of this, there appears to be a low risk of severity in both younger and older populations.
In other words, the data suggest that so far the link between cases and serious illness with Omicron has weakened, probably due to the effects of the vaccine.
However, according to the head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, it has left health systems under severe pressure, with record numbers of people catching it.
The WHO has said that there has been a 71% increase in the number of global cases in the last week.
“Like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalizing people and it’s killing people,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva on Thursday.
“Indeed, the tsunami of cases is so vast and rapid, that it is taking a toll on health systems around the world.”
In a recent press briefing, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We can take some comfort from the fact that this form of the virus may not be as severe as we initially feared.
“But the speed at which it is traveling and its contagiousness remains a cause for concern.
“We have taken proportionate measures to help keep Wales open and Wales safe as we navigate our way through this omicron wave. But we need everyone’s help to make it happen.
“Over the next two weeks it will be more important than ever to keep doing all the things that have helped protect all of us during the pandemic.”
‘Hospitalization not as bad as last year’
There are now a total of 994 Kovid-19 patients in hospitals in Wales. This is an increase of 43% over the previous week and the highest number since last March.
However, this number is well below last year’s peak when it reached 2,800.
In an interview with WellsOnline, Mark Drakeford revealed that the figure of 994 included patients who were in hospital for other reasons, but had tested positive for Covid. According to the First Minister, this was a big challenge for the hospitals, which had to separate these patients from the rest.
‘ICU rates are low’
As of Friday 7 January, 39 people with Covid were in intensive care in Welsh hospitals.
This is an increase of 32 people in ventilated intensive care beds with COVID-19 on 30 December, but significantly lower than the first week of January 2021 where 140 were in ICU and 164 people were in ICU during the peak in April 2020.
However, as mentioned, the hospital now has a total of 994 Covid-19 patients, a 43% increase over the previous week and the highest since last March. COVID is still placing enormous pressure on the NHS and other public services.
The latest figures show staff absenteeism from illness and isolation is 8.3% in the NHS, but in some NHS organisations, it is up to 16.5%.
‘Covid affairs driven by young people’
According to data from Public Health Wales, the number of people in their 20s and 30s contracting Covid is pushing the country’s infection rate as it reached a new record high.
For the week ending December 31, which saw infection rates top 1,000 cases per 100,000 population for the first time in the pandemic, nearly half of all cases were in people aged 20 to 39.
However, while it is the younger age group that has seen the biggest numbers overall, the coronavirus is growing the fastest among the older age groups.
In the last seven-day cycle, there has been a 78% increase in the number of COVID cases in the age group of 20-29, while the cases in the age group of 30-39 have more than doubled. Meanwhile, cases in the age group of 60-69 have tripled and those above the age of 90 have quadrupled.
Despite the short duration of festivals, cases have been reported in all age groups.
Life will be ‘normal’ in 2022
Although our NHS and social care sector are currently under enormous pressure, particularly due to staff shortages, the report suggests that we are not facing a repeat of last winter’s hospitalizations.
Data from South Africa’s Department of Health showed that there was a 29.7% reduction in new Covid cases detected every week for the week ending 25 December. The country also saw a decline in hospital admissions in eight of its nine provinces. In other words, there are early signs that the Omicron wave has passed in South Africa and therefore there is a ray of hope for Britain and the rest of the world.
This year may see the roll-out of antiviral drugs. The promising antiviral pill, Paxlovid, is intended for use as soon as COVID symptoms develop in people at high risk of serious illness. According to recent clinical trials, it can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death in vulnerable adults by up to 89 percent. The UK has so far ordered 2.75 million courses of the tablet by US company Pfizer.
Whether or not life will return to ‘normal’ in 2022 is determined by the success of the vaccine roll-out, not only in Wales or the UK, but globally.
‘We need to help vulnerable countries deal with coronavirus’
Health organizations and political leaders around the world have long recognized and supported the call for fair distribution and access to vaccines.
According to the recent data on vaccine roll-out by WHO, 109 countries will miss their target of completely vaccinating 70% of the world’s population by July, 2022. Scientists have said that being successful in the goal can help end the acute phase. Epidemic.
In December, the UK government revealed that it had pledged up to £105 million of its emergency aid to help vulnerable countries deal with the omicron coronavirus variant, with a particular focus on Africa.
On top of this, new vaccines are being produced in various forms to not only increase safety, but also to be easier to manufacture and distribute, improving access to COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of where people live.
Click here to get the latest news from WellsOnline delivered to your email inbox.