Every area in Wales has seen weekly infection rates fall in the past week with the overall rate dipping below 130 cases per 100,000 for the first time since the beginning of October.
It means the current overall infection rate is now nearly half of what it was when Wales went into the firebreak lockdown on October 23.
While some parts of North Wales currently have the highest infection rates per 100,000 in the whole country, the same areas are also showing some extremely rapid falls.
Rates in Denbighshire have more than halved in the past week while in Gwynedd the number of new cases has fallen by 41%.
Wrexham, which has an infection rate more than double the national average, has also seen a 30% drop in recent days.
Across the south Wales valleys cases have dropped by around a third in the last week. In Ceredigion the infection rate has also decreased by a third giving it one of the lowest rates of coronavirus in the whole of the UK.
In Carmarthenshire, which currently has the third highest infection rate in Wales, cases are dropping off more slowly having decreased by jut 12%.
Similarly in both Torfaen and Anglesey, which have the fourth and sixth highest rates of infection respectively, cases have barely changed in the past week.
Comparing the seven-day rates for the latest week of complete data (January 25-31) with the previous period (January 18-24) shows exactly where they are falling fastest.
These figures are seven-day rolling totals for new cases adjusted for population (per 100,000 people). It is important to remember that though these figures are a useful guide, they are just part of the story. If testing massively increases in one place there is likely to be a rise in confirmed cases and areas with small populations like Ceredigion can see their figures alter quite dramatically after just a few cases.
National data for the seven-day period up to January 30 showed Ceredigion has the fifth-lowest infection rate in the whole of the UK behind the Shetland and Orkney Islands, Torridge and North Devon.
Monmouthshire has the twelfth-lowest rate and Gwynedd is ranked fourteenth. Merthyr Tydfil which at one point had the highest infection rate in the whole of the UK, has also seen rates plummet to the twentieth-lowest in the UK.
The all-Wales infection rate has fallen by 27% over the past seven days meaning it now stands at less than half of the 300 cases for every 100,000 threshold used to determine if the country should be placed in Alert Level four.
Remaining at this level over a sustained period is one of the key benchmarks for moving out of the very high risk category and into Alert Level Three (or high risk).
However, other measures watched by the Welsh Government suggest any change might not come quickly. The percentage of tests coming back positive is still above the 10% benchmark, albeit marginally. See the full details of the lockdown tiers here.
|Local Authority||Infection rate per 100,000 (Jan 25-31)||Positivity (Jan 25-31)|
|Neath Port Talbot||105.4||10.6%|
|Rhondda Cynon Taf||116.5||10.1%|
|Vale of Glamorgan||112.3||10.3%|
The Welsh Government will look at a range of data to determine how and when Wales moves out of the level four lockdown, including case rates in the over-60s and a reliable estimate of the R rate.
At the start of the week Dr Giri Shanker, who is leading PHW’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, said the rapid fall in infection rates was “welcome news” the translation of that effect into our NHS and health care is yet to be seen.
Dr Shanker said: “The hospitals are still full, critical care is full and sadly the number of people dying and is still where above where we’d like it to be.”
It’s clear that half of Wales currently has a positivity rate at or above the level four threshold. In Wrexham, one in five tests is still coming back positive.
However the situation is looking significantly more positive than it did on December 19 when First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the Alert Level Four lockdown for Wales. On Friday the education minister, Kirsty Williams, announced the first school classes will be resuming on February 22 with teachers getting twice weekly tests.
And Wales continues to lead the way in the pace of the coronavirus vaccination rollout and is on track to meet the mid-February deadline for vaccinating everyone in the first priority groups.