The new variant of coronavirus currently sweeping across parts of England is also a factor in the rapid rise of cases in Wales, a minister has said.
Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething told BBC News On Sunday that the new variant was “effectively seeded” across the country.
He also said that the decision to place the country immediately into lockdown ahead of Christmas was due to the information that the new strain was leading to faster spread of the virus.
Mr Gething added: “Unfortunately our rates are around about 600 per 100,000, they are very high across the country with large concentrations in the south of Wales but also north-east Wales has been particularly affected as well.
“This has been a very difficult decision for many people here in Wales, I know people have been frustrated and there are some people who are angry but we are having to make these choices to try to keep people safe.
“We have already moved ahead of the rest of the UK in changing our rules about Christmas mixing when new information about the new variant, and the fact it does appear to be generating a much more rapid growth of the virus really does mean that we need to act.”
When asked if the new variant was in Wales as well as the London and parts of the south east and east of England, Mr Gething said: “I’m afraid the new variant is here in Wales as well.
“The undoubtable truth is this new variant is effectively seeded across the country, so acting now takes account of the fact that this new variant is undoubtedly a factor, we can’t say how much of a factor, in the rapid growth in cases across south Wales despite the measures we have taken.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Saturday that an immediate lockdown in Wales was needed to protect people from the new strain.