THERE have been 97 cases of the Indian variant – now known as delta variant – of coronavirus identified in Wales.

Of the 12,431 delta variant cases so far confirmed in the UK [at the time of publication], 10,797 are in England, 1,511 in Scotland, 97 in Wales and 26 in Northern Ireland.

Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, whose modelling was instrumental to the UK locking down in March 2020, said the delta variant is anywhere between 30 per cent and 100 per cent more transmissible than the alpha (previously Kent) variant.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales’ coronavirus restrictions would continue to ease if the growing number of cases of the delta variant was not leading to increased pressure on hospitals.

Mr Drakeford said: “It’s not risk-free, that strategy, because that assumes that there will be greater circulation of the virus in the community and when you allow coronavirus to circulate the opportunities for new variants emerging increase as well.

“But if the link between falling ill and needing to be treated in hospital is broken, then it will mean that in the future we will have to find ways of living with coronavirus more like the way we live with the seasonal flu.”

He also described the emergence of this variant as another variant as another "unpleasant surprise” and that – although the situation in Wales is positive today – the delta variant adds a layer of complexity.

The 'considerable majority' of the 97 cases identified in Wales are those not vaccinated, according to the First Minister, but in some cases the people were vaccinated to some degree.