Covid inquiry: timeline of the pandemic in Wales

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Shopping in Cardiff just before a short lockdown to be imposed in autumn 2020

Here's a timeline of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wales – with 30 key dates.

The first cases of the virus were confirmed in the UK in late January 2020 and events unfolded rapidly. It will be three years before the pandemic is declared over – although Covid is still with us.

Here's a look at some of the key stages of the pandemic.

28 February 2020 The first case was confirmed in Wales – a test taken in Swansea a day earlier by a man returning from northern Italy, where the virus had already spread.

18 March Schools in Wales have closed due to the extended Easter holidays. They will be open to children who are vulnerable and children of key workers who cannot be looked after at home.

23 March Prime Minister's address with the message of staying at home. Non-essential shops and community spaces are closed and gatherings of more than two people in public are banned.

12 AprilPeak of first wave in Wales – 73 deaths in one day. So far more than 730 people have died due to Covid.

18 April Critical care COVID cases in hospital have peaked at 164 patients in ICU or on invasive ventilation.

8th May Lockdown has been extended in Wales. But people can exercise more than once a day but they have to stay local. Garden centers can open – with social distancing.

16th May Testing has been announced for all care homes, with more than 37,000 residents and staff given weekly tests. It was finally scrapped in April 2022.

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Wales and England's Covid rules often differed

29 may As infections decline, “stay home” is being replaced by “stay local.” Wales has taken a slower approach than England and First Minister Mark Drakeford has said it is being “cautious and careful” – with a five-mile rule imposed for households. The death toll has crossed 2,000 and police have fined nearly 1,400 people for violating rules.

27th July Relaxation in Covid restrictions will continue. Beauty salons, cinemas and museums can reopen but face masks will have to be worn on public transport.

4 september A cluster of cases has emerged in Caerphilly, with house parties blamed by a public health officer. Lockdowns are imposed at the local level, which have an initial impact on infection.

21 september Covid alert level raised by all four UK chief medical authorities. With the surge in infections, an estimated 10,800 people in Wales have had Covid.

23 October A “fire outbreak” has begun in Wales. People have been asked to stay at home and pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops have had to close.

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Covid: See how case rates have changed in Wales

9 November The Welsh “firebreak” has ended, although after a brief spell it cannot stop cases rising steadily. There are an estimated 35,300 infections this week. During the fire period, there were an average of 20 deaths due to Covid each day, more than double the average of the previous period.

8th December The Covid vaccine roll-out has started in Wales, with care home residents and staff and people over 80 the first to receive it.

17th December The case rate reaches a second wave peak of 636 infections per 100,000.

28th December The Office for National Statistics has estimated in its own infection survey that 173,200 people will be affected by Covid in Wales over the winter.

11 January 2021 The worst day for Covid deaths in Wales – 83 – and the peak of the second wave. Nearly 2,500 people have died due to Covid since the wildfires ended in November.

12 February First vaccination program milestone achieved, with first doses offered to four main priority groups. More than 750,000 people have accepted the offer, which is almost a quarter of the total population.

March 25th The “stay local” restriction was removed. Some accommodation and libraries can reopen, children's outdoor activities can take place and up to six people from households can meet outside.

3 may Wales has moved into alert level 3. Organized outdoor activities can take place for up to 30 people and wedding receptions can take place for up to 30 guests. “The sacrifices we have all made are having a positive impact in the fight against coronavirus”, says First Minister.

14 may As Wales moved to alert level 2, restrictions were further eased. Weekly infections are now estimated not in the thousands, but in the hundreds. Pubs and restaurants can reopen, along with entertainment venues and all accommodation. International travel can resume under the countries' “traffic light” system.

11 October: Attending large events, nightclubs and other entertainment venues, Covid passes are required to prove that they have been fully vaccinated or have tested negative. It is estimated that 70,000 people are suffering from the infection each week – rising to 160,000 by the end of the year as the Delta variant takes hold.

9 April 2022 Covid infections have peaked in Wales with an estimated 231,900 as the Omicron variant becomes dominant. However, 80% of the population has now been vaccinated, including about 69,000 12 to 15-year-olds who were offered a dose.

5 May 2023 World Health Organization says Covid no longer a global health emergency

30th May End of remaining Covid restrictions.

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