Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Monday, February 15, as the latest review of lockdown restrictions in Wales is set to be announced this week in Wales.
Welsh cabinet members will consider the latest scientific evidence on Thursday before First Minister Mark Drakeford announces any changes on Friday (February 19).
But he has warned that any changes will be “marginal”. An updated roadmap out of lockdown will also be published on Friday.
Speaking to BBC Politics Wales, Mr Drakeford said: “We want to be clear to people that any changes will be marginal, but we are always keen to see if there is any opportunity to allow the outdoors to be more than is possible at present. To see if there are any marginal steps that we might be able to take for families, but it will depend.
“We will not be making those decisions until Thursday (February 18), when we have the very latest information.
“Schools remain are our top priority. Getting our children back into school is the most important thing we can do and then we will see if there is any marginal room for us to offer any other easements.”
Mr Drakeford said he hoped to be able to indicate “how we will plan” to get more children back to the classroom this Friday, possibly from the next review which would be on March 12.
He also spoke about Easter saying it was unlikely that the hospitality trade would be able to re-open, but that self-contained self-catering may be able to offer places.
On Sky, Mr Drakeford defended his decision to welcome children back into Welsh classrooms this month – a full two weeks before schools in England are set to re-open.
Children aged between three and seven are set to return to Welsh primary schools on February 22.
He said: “We are able to do this because we went into a national lockdown here [in Wales] before Christmas and that is being felt here very significantly. The infection rate was over 650 and is now below 100 – that has created a small amount of headroom to allow us to bring the youngest children back into school on February 22.
“We will then monitor that very carefully indeed. These are tentative and first steps.”
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More than 15 million people now vaccinated
Ministers in England are also beginning to review coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England after more than 15 million people across the UK received their first dose of a vaccine.
Boris Johnson hailed the achievement – just over two months after the vaccination programme delivered its first jab – as a “significant milestone” in the fight against the disease.
The Prime Minister will this week begin considering how restrictions in England may be eased ahead of a statement on February 22 setting out his “road-map” out of lockdown.
Ministers have said they are “on track” to meet the target of getting an offer of a first dose to everyone the UK in the top four priority groups – including all over 70s – by Monday’s deadline.
The Prime Minister confirmed on Sunday that it had been met in England after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Friday that Wales had become the first of the four nations to reach it.
The passing of the 15 million vaccinations mark paves the way for the next phase of the the rollout – covering the next five priority groups, including the over 50s -to begin.
NHS England has already sent out 1.2 million invitations to the over 65s to book an appointment, with a similar number expected to go out this week.
The Government is aiming to get an offer of a vaccine to the estimated 17 million people in the next five groups by the end of April.
In a video message posted online on Sunday, Mr Johnson said there was still “a long way to go” and that there would “undoubtedly be bumps in the road”.
He remains cautious, saying they would need to study the data “very, very hard” for evidence that the rollout of the vaccines is driving down the incidence of the disease, as the numbers of cases fell.
While he was “optimistic” that a “cautious” easing of lockdown measures would be possible, he said that he did not want to be forced into a “reverse ferret” if there was a fresh resurgence of the disease.
Scientists have warned of a new wave of the pandemic as big as the current one if measures are relaxed too quickly while senior NHS figures say the health service remains under intense pressure.
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Heathrow warns of chaos as quarantine rules start
Heathrow has warned of quarantine chaos that could lead to passengers queueing for up to five hours and flights being suspended as the UK Government’s new border controls come into force today.
International travellers returning to England from “red list” countries will have to quarantine in Government-designated hotels from today.
This is a list of 33 countries deemed at high risk of coronavirus variants, which includes all of South America, southern Africa, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.
But officials at Heathrow airport have warned ministers the extra checks needed on arrivals and shortages of Border Force staff could “compromise” the safety of up to 8,000 passengers a day flying into Heathrow to quarantine either in Government-approved hotels or at home.
Border Force officials estimate the checks on whether passengers have come from one of the 33 countries and paid for their quarantine hotels and Covid tests could double the time taken to 15 minutes per arrival. E-gates have been shut because of the need for face-to-face checks.
Staff have already faced heavy queues in recent days after a surge in passengers arriving in efforts to avoid the 10-day enforced quarantine in hotels for which they have to pay up to £1,750 per person.
Travellers must take a coronavirus test and get a negative result in the three days before they travel.
Those coming from a country on the Government’s ban list must book a “managed self-isolation package” which includes a hotel, transport and testing.
Passengers will also be required to complete a passenger locator form with details of where they will quarantine on arrival.
Those who provide false information on their locator form could face up to 10 years in prison.
Cases in your area by postcode
Infection rate in Wales continues to fall
A further 15 people in Wales have died having tested positive for coronavirus, the latest statistics have confirmed.
The figures published by Public Health Wales reveal that 394 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the latest 24-hour period – down from the 400 which were reported on Saturday – bringing the total since the outbreak of the pandemic to 199,155.
The number of people to have died with coronavirus in Wales within a month of a positive test now stands at 5,121.
The infection rate across Wales is currently 95.1 per 100,000 population, based on the seven days up to February 9, a decrease from 98.7 on Saturday. It is the lowest it has been since September.
The latest data also shows that 771,651 people have now received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, up from the figure of 749,445 published 24 hours earlier. Meanwhile, 4,573 people have now received both doses of the vaccine. Figures for your area are here.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk