THE coronavirus lockdown in Wales will be extended today.

Mark Drakeford will confirm the alert level four restrictions will remain in place for another three weeks.

While the situation in Wales is improving, with the incidence rates and test positivity rates falling, the regulations will remain in place to give time for the NHS to recover.

The first minister is expected to announce the extension at the Welsh Government's press briefing this afternoon.

Mr Drakeford is also expected to indicate that the youngest learners in primary schools could return to face to face learning after the February half term, so long as rates continue to fall across the country.

The Welsh Government will work with schools and education partners on a phased and flexible return to schools after February 22, if the situation continues to improve.

Rates of coronavirus across Wales have fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 people for the time since early November.

Latest figures also show that almost 11 per cent of the population have now received their first dose of the vaccine.

However, while coronavirus related hospital numbers have begun to fall, both in Gwent and across the country, the Welsh NHS Confederation has warned that they are still operating "well above capacity".

On Wednesday, Dr Frank Atherton, chief medical officer for Wales, was asked where case rates would need to get to in order for some restrictions to be eased.

The chief medical officer said it was a "complex equation" and relied on a mixture of three things.


He said: "There is no absolute number that I would point to when we can start to reopen.

"We need to look at three things, the community transmission rate, the NHS capacity and the percentage of people who are vaccinated. 

"What I would say, and do say to the first minister and health minister, is we need to learn from what has happened when it we came out of previous lockdowns.

"What we saw was that even though rates came down quite well, when we released it, we did so in a way that allowed the virus to re-establish itself very quickly.

"As we do get more headroom what we need to do is release things very cautiously."