Every adult in Britain could get their first Covid jab ‘by early June’ after surge in vaccine supply

Every adult in Britain could receive their first Covid jab by early June – two months ahead of the EU – after a surge in the supply of vaccines.

In yet another boost to the UK’s rapidly moving vaccine roll-out, the Government is reportedly set to take stock of a ‘bumper supply’ of jabs in the coming days.

It means the NHS could now offer vaccines to the over 40s as early as Easter, according to the Telegraph.

And, if the roll-out continues at an accelerated rate, all adults in the UK could get their first jab by June 10, according to the Times.

The updated target is a month before the Government’s original July goal and two months ahead of the EU – which is expected to reach the same point by August.

It comes after it was earlier this week revealed that up to 10 million extra vaccine doses could be available to the UK within days following a surge in the supply.

And last night it was revealed that the number of people to receive their first Covid jab topped 23million – as Britain took a step closer to a return to normality.

It comes as in other coronavirus related news:

  • Covid cases crept up by 10 per cent to 6,609 as tests hit record high of 1.6m because of schools reopening;
  • Deaths dropped by another 26 per cent in a week with 175 victims and R rate falls to lowest ever level even though outbreak may be growing in Scotland;
  • Office for National Statistics experts claimed that the total number of people infected with Covid in England fell by a fifth to just over 200,000 last week — the equivalent of one in 270 people;
  • King’s College London epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector said he believes the ‘darkest days are behind us’
  • Nicola Sturgeon eased lockdown restrictions in Scotland to allow four adults from two households to meet outside, despite figures suggesting a rise in cases
  • Wales is making the same step today, with First Minister Mark Drakeford yesterday announcing the ‘stay at home’ order will be dropped in favour of a ‘stay local’ message
Every adult in Britain could receive their first Covid jab (pictured: A woman receives an injection in Leeds yesterday) by June - two months ahead of the EU - after a surge in the supply of vaccines

Every adult in Britain could receive their first Covid jab (pictured: A woman receives an injection in Leeds yesterday) by June - two months ahead of the EU - after a surge in the supply of vaccines

Every adult in Britain could receive their first Covid jab (pictured: A woman receives an injection in Leeds yesterday) by June – two months ahead of the EU – after a surge in the supply of vaccines

In yet another boost to the UK's rapidly advancing vaccine roll-out, the Government is set to take stock of 'bumper supply' of vaccines in the coming days. Pictured: Boris Johnson meets with Professor Jose Bengoechea during a visit at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine in Belfast

In yet another boost to the UK's rapidly advancing vaccine roll-out, the Government is set to take stock of 'bumper supply' of vaccines in the coming days. Pictured: Boris Johnson meets with Professor Jose Bengoechea during a visit at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine in Belfast

In yet another boost to the UK’s rapidly advancing vaccine roll-out, the Government is set to take stock of ‘bumper supply’ of vaccines in the coming days. Pictured: Boris Johnson meets with Professor Jose Bengoechea during a visit at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute For Experimental Medicine in Belfast

If the roll-out continues at an accelerated rate, all adults in the UK could get their first jab by June 10, according to the Times. The updated target is a month before the Government's original July goal and two months ahead of the EU (pictured EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen) - which expects to reach the same point by August.

If the roll-out continues at an accelerated rate, all adults in the UK could get their first jab by June 10, according to the Times. The updated target is a month before the Government's original July goal and two months ahead of the EU (pictured EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen) - which expects to reach the same point by August.

If the roll-out continues at an accelerated rate, all adults in the UK could get their first jab by June 10, according to the Times. The updated target is a month before the Government’s original July goal and two months ahead of the EU (pictured EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen) – which expects to reach the same point by August.

How London’s Covid outbreak is rapidly shrinking: All but ONE borough saw infection rates drop last week – with some parts of the capital seeing cases fall by HALF 

Only one London borough suffered a spike in coronavirus cases last week, Government data has revealed as the capital’s second wave remains firmly in retreat.

Department of Health’s most-up-to-date data showed 31 out of 32 local authorities saw their infection rate dip over the seven-day spell to March 6.

Hammersmith and Fulham recorded the sharpest drop in Covid cases, after they halved in a week. It was followed by Haringey, Brent, Bromley and Bexley, where infections plummeted by more than 40 per cent.

Kingston-upon-Thames was the only London borough to see cases tick upwards, after they rose by 28 per cent last week to 50.1 positive tests per 100,000 residents.

Public health officials in the capital credited the ‘heroic efforts of Londoners’ for the nosediving infection rates last week, but warned they must continue to stay at home and follow the rules.

There is a delay of at least a week between someone catching the virus, developing symptoms severe enough to get a test and receiving a positive result, creating a lag in the figures.

It comes after a slew of data today offered yet more proof that Britain has turned the tide on the pandemic, with infections continuing to drop across the country.

Just six out of 149 local authorities in England saw Covid cases fall last week, according to Public Health England.

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The accelerated roll-out is set to begin with a drive to quickly work through to the next priority group – the over-50s – after attempting to vaccinate the remaining under-65s with underlying conditions.

All of those aged 50 and above are now expected to be offered a jab over the next week – three weeks ahead of the Government’s initial target.

According to the Telegraph, it comes as stocks of Covid vaccines are set to more than double.

And it means the over 40s can now be bought forward, with everyone in the group now set to be offered a jab by April 4, the paper adds.

Vaccination centres have already been instructed to recruit more staff to keep up with the jab supply surge, the paper reports.

Meanwhile, the Times says the UK’s roll-out is set to be boosted by the arrival of jabs from Moderna, Janssen and Novavax.

The UK has ordered 17million Moderna jabs, 30million Janssen jabs and 60million Novavax jabs – all of which are over 80 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation.

So far, the vaccine roll-out has relied on the Oxford University-researched AstraZeneca jab, of which the Government has ordered 100million doses, and the Pfizer-Biontech jab, of which it has ordered 40million.

Research firm Infinity says the influx of new jabs means the UK could have every adult vaccinated by June 10, according to the Times.

The firm estimates that the EU will reach the same milestone by the end of August – giving the UK a head start in terms of its economic recovery.

The quicker restart could be worth tens of billions of pounds to the UK, which had opted out of the EU’s joint vaccine procurement scheme due to Brexit. 

Airfinity’s chief executive Rasmus Hansen said the EU’s struggles were due to the bloc viewing vaccination ‘as a pure procurement challenge’, compared to the British and American focus on production, research and development. 

Meanwhile, the EU’s vaccination programme continues to struggle, with more than three million of the most-at-risk Germans – such as those over 80 – still yet to receive their first Covid jab.

Britain’s flying start to its vaccine roll-out was last month hit by a dip, with ministers blaming suppliers for a drop in stock. 

Vaccination centres (pictured: A vaccination centre in Leeds) have already been instructed to recruit more staff to keep up with the jab supply surge, according to reports

Vaccination centres (pictured: A vaccination centre in Leeds) have already been instructed to recruit more staff to keep up with the jab supply surge, according to reports

Vaccination centres (pictured: A vaccination centre in Leeds) have already been instructed to recruit more staff to keep up with the jab supply surge, according to reports

Meanwhile, the Times says the UK's roll-out is set to be boosted by the arrival of jabs from Moderna, Janssen and Novavax (pictured: A dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine)

Meanwhile, the Times says the UK's roll-out is set to be boosted by the arrival of jabs from Moderna, Janssen and Novavax (pictured: A dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine)

Meanwhile, the Times says the UK’s roll-out is set to be boosted by the arrival of jabs from Moderna, Janssen and Novavax (pictured: A dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine)

Isle of Man records first coronavirus death in more than four months

The Isle of Man has recorded its first Covid-19 death in more than four months. 

The island’s government has said the first person to die with Covid since November 5 was of an ‘older age’, according to the BBC

So far 26 people have died from Covid on the Isle of Man, while there are currently 

There are 12 people receiving treatment for the virus in Noble’s Hospital, one remains in intensive care. 

Chief Minister Howard Quayle told the BBC the death was a ‘painful reminder of how dangerous this virus is’.

‘I am sure the thoughts of everyone on our island will be with this person’s family and loved ones, to whom I extend my condolences,’ he added.  

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But Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford earlier this week alleviated fears of over a ‘dip’ in the vaccination.

He told the i newspaper that the dip was now over ahead of the UK entering what he described as a ‘crucial stage’ of its jab rollout.

Mr Drakeford said: ‘We are confident that we are past the couple of weeks where there was a dip in supply and we will be getting significantly greater volumes during the month of March.’

Last month the country’s highly-praised vaccination roll-out began to stall after getting off to a rapid start – which put the UK far ahead of its European neighbours.

Just 192,000 people were vaccinated on Monday, February 23 and 142,000 the day before, in two of the lowest daily tolls since the mammoth operation began to gather steam at the start of the year.

Ministers have repeatedly blamed the ‘lumpy’ supply of vaccines as being the ‘rate-limiting factor’ of the programme.

Officials say shrinking deliveries were expected because Pfizer had to improve its key factory in Belgium at the start of the year, and AstraZeneca’s production was slower to get off the ground than planned.

However, both drug giants have insisted that there are no unforeseen issues with the supply chain.  

Meanwhile, Britain’s coronavirus cases last night began to rise again, because of a huge schools testing campaign.

However all other measures pointed to the outbreak continuing to die out with deaths down on last week and the R rate sinking to its lowest ever level.

Another 6,609 cases and 175 more deaths were announced by the Department of Health. 

 

The Office for National Statistics survey found that the total number of people infected with coronavirus fell again in the most recent week, to 200,600 - the lowest since the start of October

The Office for National Statistics survey found that the total number of people infected with coronavirus fell again in the most recent week, to 200,600 - the lowest since the start of October

The Office for National Statistics survey found that the total number of people infected with coronavirus fell again in the most recent week, to 200,600 – the lowest since the start of October

CASES RISE SLIGHTLY IN SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND 

As the number of people infected with coronavirus continues to fall across England it appears to be levelling off in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today show that, in Northern Ireland, around one in 310 people were infected last week, up from one in 325 a week earlier.

The estimate for Scotland was around one in 320 people, up from one in 335 the previous week. 

Sarah Crofts, senior statistician for the ONS’s Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: ‘We are seeing a mixed picture across the UK this week.

‘Infection levels in England and Wales have continued to decrease in the week ending March 6 but appear to be levelling off in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

‘It’s reassuring to see infection levels in the majority of English regions also continuing to decrease – however, it’s important for us to remain cautious and closely monitor those regions that are not showing a clear decrease.

‘These are in the south of England, Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands.’ 

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The case count is a small rise on last Friday (11 per cent), driven up by a huge spike in the number of tests being done as schools reopened, with a record 1.6million carried out yesterday.

But deaths have continued to come down, with a 26 per cent week-on-week drop. 

No10’s scientific advisory panel SAGE estimated the reproduction rate — the average number of people infected by each person with coronavirus — is between 0.6 and 0.8 across the UK and England, meaning the outbreak is still shrinking. 

Office for National Statistics experts claimed today that the total number of people infected with Covid in England fell by a fifth to just over 200,000 last week — the equivalent of one in 270 people. 

And data from a major symptom-tracking app today claimed 4,200 people are becoming ill with the disease every day — down by a third in a week

 Professor Tim Spector, a King’s College London epidemiologist behind the study, said he believes the ‘darkest days are behind us’.

But the rate at which the outbreak is shrinking in England has slowed down even though total cases and daily new cases have fallen to levels not seen since September.

For comparison, outbreaks in Scotland and Northern Ireland appear to have stagnated and may have risen slightly, according to the ONS. 

Nicola Sturgeon today eased lockdown restrictions in Scotland to allow four adults from two households to meet outside, despite figures suggesting a rise in cases. 

The First Minister has insisted she will be led by data not dates, but has still sped up her plans to relax measures in the face of a stagnating outbreak.

Boris Johnson, on the other hand, has refused to accelerate England’s calendar for easing measures despite Covid cases continuing to fall.

The figure’s will pile even more pressure on No10 to relax lockdown quicker in England, amid mounting Tory fury at the Prime Minister’s reluctance to move quicker.

Rishi Sunak admits working from home is ‘probably’ here to stay after the pandemic 

Rishi Sunak admitted yesterday that working from home is here to stay and Britons are ‘probably not’ going to spend five days a week in the office after the pandemic disappears.

The Chancellor said he was a fan of the positives that communal working brings but admitted that changes made during the last year would probably stay at least in some form.

In a wide-ranging interview for Politico’s Westminster Insider podcast he also defended his hawkish attitude to lockdowns and hit out at critics of his Eat Out to Help Out subsidy scheme over claims it helped the spread of coronavirus

The 40-year-old said he would not be doing his job if he did not advise the Prime minister about the economic cost of putting UK PLC into hibernation in a bid to beat the virus. 

And he claimed it was not ‘plausible’ to link his programme to breathe life back into the hospitality sector last August with an autumnal spike in cases, as some scientists have done.

Asked what the ‘new normal’ would look like after the lockdown is lifted in the summer, Mr Sunak said: ‘Like the PM, I think both of us are in the camp of believing that people being physically together in workplaces is a good and positive thing. 

‘I think the spontaneity that comes from that, the camaraderie, the team building, I think it’s all really important.

‘And I’ve missed that over the past year, so I look forward to that coming back. Is it going to come back in exactly the same way? Probably not.’ 

‘And actually, even small changes have quite big implications, whether it’s for the economics of commuter rail or a coffee shop that’s used to servicing commuters.

‘If people work one day a week on average at home and everyone does that, that’s 20 percent less commuting traffic – that’s not a small impact. So I think we’ll have to see all how that plays out.’ 

Last month Boris Johnson said he was confident Britain’s cities would ‘bounce back’ from the coronavirus exodus of workers – as it was revealed working from home rules could be in place until the summer.

The Prime Minister told MPs that rules that have ordered people not to go to offices and factories unless they cannot work anywhere will continue until the completion of a review into long-term social distancing measures. 

It raises the prospect of economic problems for city centres across the UK to continue for many months to come – while shops, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open they may not have any customers.

But expectations of workers going back to their offices full time are low, with a host of large firms already planning to relocate from larger offices to smaller ones, with staff working from home and hot-desking when they need to come in in person.

Mr Sunak today talked up a new American model of people working more from services offices in their local neighbourhood on days when they do not want to work from home but also do not want a long commute.

The Chancellor was also bullish about his own role during the pandemic. He has been seen as a hawk on the lockdown and the Covid restrictions, arguing against long lockdowns on economic grounds.

And he told Politico that he would not be doing his job if he did not do that, adding ‘it’s easy to judge these things with hindsight’.

‘But I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t give the Prime Minister what I thought the impact any decision would have on the economy, he added, in comments likely to be welcomed by Tory lockdown critics.

‘And even when we’re considering the health impact, it’s not just coronavirus health impacts that we should be cognisant of. 

‘We should also think about the non-coronavirus health impacts, whether that’s mental health, whether that’s people not getting treatment they need, or whether it’s the delayed backlog that is accruing, or indeed the ill health, chronic ill health outcomes that come from unemployment, of which there is plenty of evidence as well.’

 

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He has also promised to be led by ‘data not dates’ in his roadmap back to normality. 

Wales will make the same step from tomorrow, with First Minister Mark Drakeford set to announce later today that the ‘stay at home’ order will be dropped in favour of a ‘stay local’ message. Hairdressers will also be permitted to reopen from Monday.

Vaccination – the key to lifting lockdown rules – is still moving slower than it did at the start of February, with 260,809 people immunised for the first time yesterday along with 93,563 second doses.   

A total of 23.3million people have now been vaccinated across the UK. 

But despite cases continuing to drop and the vaccine drive running smoothly in England, current rules mean only two people from two households can meet outside, with groups of six from two homes not permitted to gather until March 29.

SAGE’s yesterday said the rate of spread is thought to be between 0.6 and 0.8 – meaning every 10 people with coronavirus infect six or eight others – in the UK.

This was also the level given for England, and the regions the East of England, London, Midlands, North West and South East. 

It was slightly higher in the North East and Yorkshire, where it is likely between 0.7 and 0.9, and slightly lower in the South West where it was between 0.5 and 0.8.

No regions had an R rate over 1, suggesting the second wave is still shrinking in all areas.

Separate data from the ONS, however, suggested that the outbreak was stagnating in some parts of the UK.

It found an estimated 0.37 per cent of people in England had Covid last week – equivalent to one in 270 people being infected. This was down from the 0.45 per cent the week before, or one in 220 having the virus.

In Wales they found 0.27 per cent had the virus – one in 365 – which was also a drop from last week when the rate was 0.35, or one in 285.

But in Scotland it went up, suggesting their outbreak is stagnating. ONS data showed the positivity rate was 0.31 per cent last week – one in 320 people – up from 0.3 per cent the week before – or one in 335 people.

The study works using swab tests sent to thousands of random people across the UK, then calculating what percentage of them are positive for coronavirus and scaling that up to fit the general population.

In the most recent two weeks of the study 15,269 people in Scotland took part – 0.27 per cent of the population.

In England there were 157,680 people who submitted a swab test for the study, which was equal to about the same proportion – 0.28 per cent. 

In Wales 11,517 people took part (0.36 per cent) and in Northern Ireland, 11,312 (0.6 per cent).

The figures came as Ms Sturgeon sped up her timetable for relaxing restrictions in Scotland. It has piled pressure on Mr Johnson to also bring England out of restrictions earlier, as cases continue to fall.

Broken down by regions of England, the data showed the infection rate was highest in the West Midlands (0.5 per cent), followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, the South East and the North East (all 0.4 per cent).

In the South West, North West, East Midlands, East of England and London the positivity rate was 0.3 per cent. 

Sarah Crofts, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: ‘We are seeing a mixed picture across the UK this week.

‘Infection levels in England and Wales have continued to decrease in the week ending March 6 but appear to be levelling off in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

‘It’s reassuring to see infection levels in the majority of English regions also continuing to decrease – however, it’s important for us to remain cautious and closely monitor those regions that are not showing a clear decrease.

‘These are in the south of England, Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands.’  

Professor Spector, of King’s College London, struck a note of optimism as the fall in case numbers was matched by similar drops in hospital admissions and deaths.

He said: ‘The UK has come a long way since the start of the year, and it’s great to see new case rates falling to levels that are among the lowest in Europe. 

‘With 22million vaccinations administered, deaths and admissions falling at similar speeds, I believe we can be hopeful the darkest days are behind us. 

‘The data shows regional changes appearing with lower rates in the south. 

‘The ZOE app is built to rapidly detect new outbreaks and novel symptoms from new strains so we will be closely monitoring all the regions and symptoms, particularly now schools have reopened.’ 

Revealed: The different lockdown restrictions across the UK

England: Two people can meet outside in public.

Next step: March 29, when six people can meet outside.

Scotland: Four people can meet outside, including in gardens.

Next step: March 26, when communal worship will restart for up to 50 people.

Wales: Four people can meet outside, including in gardens (from Saturday).

Next step: March 15, when hairdressers reopen.

N. Ireland: 10 people from two households can meet outdoors.

Next step: March 16, when restrictions are reviewed.

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The study estimates one in 613 people suffered from Covid symptoms last week, with 4,225 people becoming ill per day in England, compared to 592 in Scotland, 350 in Northern Ireland and 327 in Wales.

Rates were lowest in the South West of England, with 250 registering symptoms per day, and the North East, where just 298 became ill each day.

They were highest in the North West (811) and East Midlands (706), while London saw just 581 symptomatic cases per day, falling 35 per cent from 890 in the previous week. 

The R rate, measuring the number of people infected by each person with the virus, is close to 0.8 in Scotland and England and 0.9 in Wales. An R of one means the outbreak is neither growing nor shrinking.

The findings from the symptom-tracking app — used by millions of Brits — echo a catalogue of separate data that shows the worst days of the pandemic are over.

Test and Trace data yesterday revealed Covid infections in England fell by a third last week. Public Health England statistics also showed cases had dropped in all but six authorities. And MailOnline’s analysis of official data found the Isles of Scilly has recorded no positive tests since the second wave took off in September. 

SAGE will publish an updated official estimate of the R rate later today. Last week it was thought to be somewhere between 0.7 and 0.9. 

With a third of the population now at last partially immunised and Covid deaths in free-fall, there is increasing calls for lockdown to be lifted sooner. 

Under the Government’s cautious roadmap out of restrictions, curbs will be in place until June 21 at the earliest.

Wales ends 12-week ‘stay at home’ lockdown from TOMORROW meaning up to four adults can meet outside with barbers and primary schools open on Monday – but NOT non-essential shops 

Wales will drop the ‘stay at home’ order tomorrow in a major relaxation of the country’s lockdown.

It will be replaced with a ‘stay local’ requirement for at least the next three weeks as more restrictions on everyday life are rolled back.

First Minister Mark Drakeford will later officially announce that outdoor gatherings of up to four people will resume tomorrow, including in private gardens.

Tennis courts, basketball courts and golf courses will also get the green light to reopen.

Hairdressers will be permitted to reopen from Monday, as primary school pupils also return to the classroom that day.

Indoor care home visits will also restart for single designated visitors from the weekend. 

Ahead of the major easing, Mr Drakeford said this morning: ‘Cautiously, carefully and step by step, we’re now on the journey of reopening Welsh society.’ 

The ‘stay local’ rule is likely to come under scrutiny for how it will be defined – and enforced.

People are expected to be told to stay in a five-mile radius, but those from rural areas are likely to be allowed to travel greater distances than those who live in urban towns and cities.

Another area of confusion is whether visitors are allowed to pass through a house to get to the garden.

Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ‘the idea is you walk straight through, out the back door into the garden’.

‘That will be a big step forward here in Wales, people haven’t been able to do that now for weeks and weeks,’ he said. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford will later officially announce that outdoor gatherings of up to four people will resume tomorrow, including in private gardens

First Minister Mark Drakeford will later officially announce that outdoor gatherings of up to four people will resume tomorrow, including in private gardens

First Minister Mark Drakeford will later officially announce that outdoor gatherings of up to four people will resume tomorrow, including in private gardens

Mr Drakeford is expected to say today: ‘We are taking a phased approach to unlocking each sector – starting with schools.

‘We will make step-by-step changes each week to gradually restore freedoms. We will monitor each change we make, so we know what impact each change has had on Wales’ public health situation.’

From Monday secondary schools will have the option to bring year 10 and 12 learners back, while there will be ‘flexibility’ to allow all other pupils to ‘check-in’ with teachers on a limited amount of days ahead of a full return after the Easter break.

Non-essential retail, which was considered for reopening from next week, will start to reopen gradually from March 22, while restrictions will be lifted on what can be sold in shops which are currently open.

All shops, including all close contact services, will be able to open from April 12, the same date as in England. 

People wrap up walking along the promenade at Porthcawl, Wales, this week

People wrap up walking along the promenade at Porthcawl, Wales, this week

People wrap up walking along the promenade at Porthcawl, Wales, this week

Businesses that will be affected by ongoing restrictions will be supported by an additional £150 million from the Welsh Government.

This morning Mr Drakeford said he hoped tourism would be open to people outside of Wales by the summer if the coronavirus situation continued to improve.

‘At Easter time, Welsh people will be able to travel for holidays over Easter within Wales, and to self-contained accommodation,’ Mr Drakeford said.

‘The rules in England will not permit that. The Prime Minister’s road map says that for the weeks after March 29, people should minimise travel, there are to be no holidays, and people won’t be allowed to stay away from home overnight.

‘If it won’t be safe to stay overnight in England, then obviously it would not be safe for people to travel into Wales.’

Public Health Wales said on Thursday there were a further 195 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 205,788.

The agency reported 12 further deaths, taking the total in the country since the start of the pandemic to 5,424.

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