A week ahead of the next 3-week Covid review, Mark Drakeford updated the nation on the current situation. 

In a press briefing, he outlined the latest data available to his cabinet, adding it is this data that will shape the decisions made next week. 

Here is everything you need to know.

CASES ARE SET TO RISE RAPIDLY

Around one in 65 people in Wales are estimated to have had Covid in the week to September 3.

That's up from one in 110 in the previous week and the highest level since the week to December 23, 2020.

The first minister said: “Today there are around 520 cases per 100,000 and that is higher than the rates we saw at the start of this calendar year.

“We now have very high rates of Coronavirus in our communities, rates which the modelling says are likely to get worse."

He confirmed that if the virus continues to spread at the current rate, 3,200 new cases of Covid will be recorded every day as the wave continues toward its peak.

NHS IS UNDER INCREASING PRESSURE

On several occasions during the briefing, the first minister reiterated that the metric his cabinet will now use moving forward is the impact Covid has on NHS pressures.

Mr Drakeford painted a worrying and stressed image of the NHS in Wales, as he sees it.

He said: "Until now, this rise has been manageable because the vaccination programme has weakened the link.

"There are some 40 covid hospital admissions each day and highest number of Coronavirus cases in hospital since March.

"Our health and care services are already experiencing staffing pressures.

"Our health and care staff are exhausted from working so hard and intensively.

"Not everybody needs to go to an Accident and Emergency department. Please think about the care your condition requires."

DECISIONS ON BOOSTER PROGRAMME AND VACCINATION 

Mr Drakeford said he expects the Joint committee on Vaccination and immunisation to confirm the plan for an autumn booster campaign soon, with invitations sent out as soon as an announcement is made.

"The four chief medical officers continue to discuss and take evidence about whether vaccines should be available for 12 to 15-year-olds," he added.

NOT RULING OUT RESTRICTIONS BUT NOT 'INEVITABLE'

Mr Drakeford refused to rule out a future lockdown or fire break but suggested it isn't a mechanism he wants to use or will use easily.

“Nothing is inevitable," he said. 

"The cabinet will be discussing this week further measures we can take to keep Wales safe.

“The health service is under enormous pressure, but not simply just from Coronavirus."

VACCINE PASSPORTS

Om the controversial topic of vaccine passports and certificates, the First Minister gave some insight into the Government's current position.

"There are a series of practical and ethical issues that need to be considered in relation to vaccine certification," the First Minister said.

While once again not ruling them out, he did confirm his Government will not introduce them in "any setting where people need to go".

However, he added: “Where people gather voluntarily ... given the numbers we are seeing in Wales today, it would not be responsible for the cabinet not to look at that as an option."

COVID INQUIRY

Despite mounting pressure to hold an independent Welsh Covid inquiry, the first minister remains steadfast in believing a UK-wide approach is the way to go. 

Asked why he doesn't want his decision to be scrutinised here in Wales, he said: "I absolutely want the decisions we made in Wales to be scrutinised.

"The question is how is that best done?"

He confirmed he had told the UK government's Michael Gove in a meeting last week that he "will need assurances that a UK-wide inquiry would be constructed in a way that would allow for a direct focus on the decisions that were made here in Wales, but also be able to understand them in the wider UK context".

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