A FURTHER 171 cases of coronavirus and seven deaths have been reported across the Hywel Dda health board area in the latest figures released today (Saturday, January 2) by Public Health Wales.

Carmarthenshire saw 104 new cases, with 33 in Ceredigion and 34 in Pembrokeshire. In total, there have been 7,688 cases in Carmarthenshire since the pandemic started, with 1,224 in Ceredigion and 2.131 in Pembrokeshire.

There has also been 227 deaths overall throughout the Hywel Dda region.

Across the country as a whole, Public Health Wales reports 2,764 new cases in the latest figures, taking the overall total to 151,300.

A further 70 deaths take the overall death toll to 3,564.

Dr Chris Williams, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said:“We wish everyone a Happy New Year, and hope that 2021 will be a better year for us all.

“With vaccinations for Covid-19 progressing, we welcome the announcement by the Welsh Government of the roll-out of the second coronavirus vaccine (from Oxford/AstraZeneca) in Wales.

“Vaccinating the adult population of Wales, to protect people from severe disease, is a significant task, and the vaccine will take time to reach everyone.

“Please do not to phone your GP, pharmacy or hospital asking when you will get a vaccine. When someone is in one of the groups eligible for the vaccine, they will be invited to attend a dedicated clinic which will have been set up to ensure patient safety and that of the healthcare professionals.

“The effects of the vaccines may not be seen nationally for some time, and with Wales at alert level four we must continue to follow the advice on keeping Wales safe. Stay at home, meet only the people you live with, maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and work from home if you can.

“As indicated by the Welsh Government, the new restrictions were brought forward due to the identification of a new more transmissible variant of coronavirus. Public Health Wales has been working with UK partners to investigate and respond to this variant.

“It is normal for viruses to undergo mutations, and we expect this to happen. Although the variant is easier to transmit, there is currently no evidence that it is more severe.

“We are reminding people that all current guidance relating to coronavirus continues to apply to the new variant, including advice relating to symptoms, social distancing, self-isolation, and vaccination.

“The new variant shows up as positive in Public Health Wales’ existing coronavirus tests, and people must continue to seek a test in the usual way if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

“If you or a member of your household develop a cough, fever or change in sense of taste or smell, you must self-isolate immediately and book a free coronavirus test, either by calling 119 or by clicking here.

“Due Bank Holiday arrangements, the data released today is as at December 31 at 9am. Data released tomorrow will cover a 48 hour period from 9am on December 31 to 9am on January 2 instead of the usual 24 hour period and so should be interpreted with caution, as it is likely to be around double the usual 24-hour value.

“This will not affect individuals receiving their results, and anyone who tests positive will be contacted by their local authority’s Test, Trace, Protect team in the usual way.”