Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Saturday, September 18, as new rules are announced for overseas travel, nightclubs and events.
Wales has seen a fall in Covid rates over the last week with modelling suggesting that Wales may have reached the peak of this wave of the virus. However with schools only recently reopened there is a still a lot of uncertainty. You can read an analysis of what Covid may have in store for us this winter here.
One of the biggest threats to the precarious situation over the winter is the importation of new variants of the disease that our vaccines are not as effective against.
Read more:Everything you need to know about coronavirus in Wales here.
With the state of Covid constantly in flux we have brought together the latest coronavirus headlines so you can keep up to date on the current situation in Wales.
Criticism of UK's new travel rules as holiday bookings expected to rocket
Holiday bookings are expected to soar after the UK Government announced a relaxation of international travel rules, but the Welsh Government have criticised new UK Government plans for the rules governing overseas travel from England claiming it risks allowing in new variants.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed on Friday that the traffic light system is set to be replaced from October 4 by a single, reduced "red list" of destinations from where travellers arriving in England will have to quarantine in a Government-supervised hotel.
People who are fully vaccinated will no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations, and from the end of October they will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.
While it has the power to set its own rules so far the Welsh Government has followed the UK rules to avoid confusion and Baroness Morgan reiterated that Welsh Government advice "continues to be that people should only travel abroad for essential reasons".
Shortly after the announcement was made Welsh Government health and social services minister Eluned Morgan said: “We will carefully consider the UK Government’s proposed changes to the border health measures, which include the removal of pre-departure testing and introducing lateral flow tests instead of PCR tests on day two of people’s return to the UK.
“Our considerations will be underpinned by robust evidence and our main focus will continue to be on reducing the risk to public health in Wales. These changes are not without risk – they weaken the line of defence on importing infection and increase opportunities for new infections and new variants to enter the UK and Wales. Vaccines can help reduce this risk but only if they are effective against new and emerging variants of concern and high-risk variants under investigation.”
Alan French, chief executive of travel firm Thomas Cook, said October half-term bookings were up 200% compared to August and he expected this figure to increase as a result of the changed system.
"Based on our bookings already today, I would expect this weekend to be the biggest of the year so far as people take advantage of the great deals on offer, the new easier rules on testing and the simplified system for international travel," he said.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of holiday company TUI UK, said he had already seen "an uptick in bookings for Turkey in October" and expected a boost in customer confidence with the new rules.
Online travel agency Skyscanner said it saw a 133% spike in traffic in the 30 minutes following Mr Shapps's announcement, while there had been "huge increases" in searches for destinations such as Turkey and the Maldives in anticipation of Friday's news.
Questions raised over the Welsh Government's new Covid pass
First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that people will have to show an NHS Covid pass to get into nightclubs and many events in Wales next month.
Under the new rules anyone aged over 18 will need to have had two vaccinations or have done a lateral flow test within the last 48 hours to be able to download the NHS Covid pass.
The requirement to show an NHS Covid Pass will come into force from 11 October. Adults will need to have a NHS pass to enter:
Read more: How to get your NHS Covid pass to show you've been vaccinated in Wales
WalesOnline has written this analysis of the issues around the Covid Pass and the questions that need to be answered around whether it will really have an impact on infection rates.
Plaid MS Delyth Jewell, chair of the Senedd Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations Committee said the Welsh Government must clear up answers about what the policy is hoped to achieve, how widely it will apply and what evidence there was.
Faking a lateral flow Covid test could become a criminal offence
Mark Drakeford has said he may make it a criminal offence to fabricate the results of a lateral flow test to get into a venue or event.
"Am I concerned that there may be misuse of lateral flow tests?," he said. "Well of course we are right to be concerned.
"But I rely on the fact that for the long history of coronavirus in Wales the vast majority of people are people who want to help, who want to do the right thing and want to be sure that they are playing their part in keeping themselves safe and other people safe too.
"We will consider over the next few days whether or not to introduce a specific offence of knowingly and deliberately falsifying a Covid Pass.
"So if there are people who think that this is just an easy ride and that they can just invent results then they mind that there are significant consequences for them in doing so.
"[Just as] you need to show and ID pass to go into an pub it is an offence to falsify the evidence you have provided, so there are parallel regimes that we can draw on if we decide that the risk of people falsifying results me we need a separate regime for it."
Older people, men and those from ethnic backgrounds are more likely to die of Covid even after double-vaccination
Older people, men and those from ethnic backgrounds are more likely to end up in hospital or die even after they have been double-vaccinated against Covid-19, researchers say.
Scientists used a range of data to show that while the risk of severe Covid-19 after vaccination remains low, some people are at greater risk than others.
They include older people and those from Indian and Pakistani backgrounds.
The fact that people from some ethnic backgrounds were more likely to die from the virus was established early on in the pandemic. WalesOnline conducted this investigation into how diverse communities in Cardiff's Butetown were being affected. However it appears the risk remains higher for certain communities even after vaccination.
Also at greater risk are those from a deprived background, the immunosuppressed, residents in care homes, and people with chronic conditions such as Down's syndrome, kidney disease, sickle cell disease, HIV/Aids and liver cirrhosis.
Commenting on why other ethnic groups may have lower risk, Professor Aziz Sheikh, of the University of Edinburgh and a co-author of the paper, said it may be due to social reasons.
He said: "I think the fact that some of the ethnic variations are diminishing suggests that a lot of this was because it's socially patterned - perhaps because of occupational risk considerations etc.
"I think with the two subgroups that remain, this is speculative, but these groups - the Indians and Pakistanis - do tend to have slightly higher household sizes and so there may be that kind of within household transmission going on."
The study may have also been limited by factors such as exposure to Covid, as background information such as occupation is not often recorded in general practice or hospital records.
University students urged to get a Covid jab during freshers week
Unvaccinated university students have been urged to get a Covid jab in freshers' week to protect themselves and their peers against the virus.
The NHS England's top doctor has called on freshers to get the vaccine at pop-up clinics and walk-in centres set up by universities before their courses begin.
The plea comes as thousands of students are arriving at university campuses across the UK over the next few weeks.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said: "Starting university is a really exciting time and getting your Covid vaccine means you will be armed with maximum protection against the virus.
"It is fantastic to see the enthusiasm from young people with more than 3.4 million people aged between 18 and 24 already having their first jab.
"With many universities set to run pop-ups and walk-ins throughout the first weeks of term it has never been easier to get protected, so I urge anyone yet to be vaccinated to take up the offer as soon as possible."
Areas of Wales with most Covid revealed
Eight areas of Wales now have Covid infection rates of more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people.
The latest Covid data published by Public Health Wales (PHW) shows that of those eight areas, six are in the south of Wales.
This data was first released on Friday, September 17. It provides the numbers for areas with an average of 7,000 people, called middle super output areas (MSOA).In practice this means there are statistics for areas like Canton in Cardiff, Morriston in Swansea, and Porth in Rhondda.
Read more:What Mark Drakeford said about another Covid lockdown
The data shows there are also 14 areas where the figure exceeds 900 cases per 100,000 of population.
The areas with the most cases at the moment are:
- Llanidloes, Blaen Hafren & Llandinam, Powys - 1,184.30 cases per 100,000
- Bargoed, Caerphilly - 1,117.40
- Ammanford & Betws, Carmarthenshire - 1,085.20
- Townhill, Swansea - 1,044.20
- Llanelli West, Carmarthenshire - 1,030.20
- St Asaph & Trefnant,Denbighshire - 1,026.10
- Aberbargoed & Gilfach, Caerphilly - 1,021.10
- Swiss Valley & Llangennech, Carmarthenshire - 1,019.20