The First Minister is urging everyone to have their COVID-19 booster vaccine as he warned Wales is facing a new wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant.
More than a million people have already received their booster vaccine in Wales but the programme is being speeded up following the emergence of the fast-moving variant.
The First Minister will say, at his regular 21-day review press conference, to be held on Friday (December 10), that even though only a handful of cases of Omicron have so far been confirmed in Wales, we must be prepared for cases to rise quickly and sharply.
Omicron was first identified in South Africa just over two weeks ago. It has quickly spread around the world, including to the UK. There is now widespread community transmission in many parts of England and Scotland.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
The emergence of the Omicron variant is another worrying development in this long-running pandemic. We are concerned about the speed it is moving and its potential to infect large numbers of people.
We are speeding up the roll-out of boosters in response to the new variant. We’re increasing the number of clinics and extending opening hours.
Every single vaccination is a small victory against the virus – so please make getting your vaccine or booster a priority.
This will be the best Christmas present you can give yourself and your family this year.
There are a number of other measures people can take to help protect themselves from coronavirus, including the new Omicron variant.
The First Minister will ask people to take regular lateral flow tests before going out and to wear face coverings in all public places help protect people in the lead up to Christmas.
Wales will remain at alert level zero after the latest review of the COVID regulations. However, with the spread of the Omicron variant, the Welsh Government is strongly advising:
- People flow before they go. This means taking a lateral flow test before going out – whether that’s to a Christmas party; Christmas shopping; visiting friends or family; going to any crowded or busy place or before travelling.
- If the test is positive, don’t go out. Arrange for a PCR test and self-isolate.
- People to wear face coverings in pubs and restaurants, when they aren’t eating or drinking. Everyone must wear face coverings in most other indoor public places, in accordance with the law, including in cinemas and theatres.
The First Minister added:
None of us wanted to hear about the news of this new variant. After almost two years of the pandemic, we had all hoped that we could put coronavirus behind us this Christmas.
But, we have faced challenges many times during this pandemic. And we have learned from each one. We are not back at square one.
Please do everything you can to protect yourself and your loved ones. Please follow all the advice and all the measures which have kept us safe over the last couple of years. And let’s stay safe and well this Christmas.