THERE were 26 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Powys today (Thursday, December 3) – pushing the number of cases in the county past the 1,500 mark.

The latest new instances take the overall total number of confirmed cases in the county since the beginning of the pandemic to 1,511.

The spike sees the biggest rise in amounts of cases in Powys for over a week, although there have been no more deaths with the virus here, meaning the number of people who have died with the virus in Powys remains at 29, according to Public Health Wales data.

Acute patients from Powys are usually treated across the border at hospitals in England, so deaths of Powys residents usually only appear in registrations reported later by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

ONS figures, considered a stronger indicator of the overall impact of the virus, and which are based on all deaths where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate, stand at 113 in Powys.

That figure is the lowest of all health board areas in Wales and 65 fewer than the second lowest figures – 178 deaths reported by the Hywel Dda health board which covers Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Powys Teaching Health Board, meanwhile, is expecting to begin distributing the new Covid-19 vaccine early next week.

It was announced on Wednesday that the UK had become the first country in the world to approve the use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

In Powys, a booking portal is being developed by Powys Teaching Health Board that will allow frontline health and care staff to access the vaccine from next week.

Powys stats:

Confirmed cases – 1,511

New cases in November 29 data – 26

Rate of new cases per 100,000 in week to November 30 – 88.3

Powys position among Welsh local authorities for rate of new cases – 14th out of 22

Newly-confirmed cases day-by-day:

Thursday, December 3 – 26

Wednesday, December 2 – 13

Tuesday, December 1 – 5

Monday, November 30 – 19

Sunday, November 29 – 19

Saturday, November 28 – 25

Friday, November 27 – 11

Thursday, November 26 – 24

The national picture:

Twenty four more people have died with coronavirus in Wales, taking the total to 2,638.

Ten of the newly reported deaths were in the Swansea Bay health board area. A further six were in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg area, with three more in the Aneurin Bevan area. Cardiff and Vale and Hywel Dda health boards each reported two deaths, with a further death in the Betsi Cadwaladr area.

More than 1.5 million tests have been taken in Wales since the start of the pandemic.

The Welsh hospitality industry is preparing itself for another big hit as a ban comes in on serving alcohol in pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales from Friday.

The Welsh Government has faced pressure this week to produce evidence to support its tough new restrictions on the hospitality industry to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

On Wednesday evening it published a report by its scientific advisory group, TAC, referring to a recent paper issued by UK ministers that pulls together some of the information that helps scientists understand where transmission is occurring.

This is evidence First Minister Mark Drakeford and his colleagues looked at when deciding on laws which will ban alcohol in pubs and restaurants from Friday, and close all hospitality venues in Wales at 6pm every night.

Plaid Cymru maintains that the Welsh Government has failed to answer questions about the decision, while the Tories claimed Welsh customers will go across the border.

Businesses can offer a takeaway service after 6pm, and if they have an off-licence can sell takeaway alcohol up until 10pm.

People will be able to travel from Wales to tier one and two areas in England and Scotland from Friday.

The new regulations prohibit travel into tier three zones in England, tiers three and four in Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland. Previously people could only travel out of Wales if it was "essential".

But the Welsh Government said it still strongly advised people against travelling to other parts of the UK to help control the spread of the virus.

England's lockdown ended on Wednesday and it now has a three-tiered system.

Public Health Wales' statement:

Dr Robin Howe, incident director for the coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has now authorised the first Covid-19 vaccine as safe and effective on the basis of detailed independent expert review of evidence from large scale clinical trials.

“The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has become the first to receive MHRA clearance in the UK and 40 million doses of the vaccine will shortly be available for delivery across the UK, with Wales getting its allocation based on population.

“This is welcome news, however the effects of the vaccine may not be seen nationally for many months and it is extremely important that everyone continues to follow the advice on keeping Wales safe; keep contacts with other people to a minimum, keep a 2 metre distance from others, wash hands regularly, wear a face covering where required, and self-isolating when asked to do so.

“It is now clear from the data that the coronavirus cases are rising in most parts of Wales, reversing the downward trend we had observed as a result of the fire break.

“The Welsh Government have introduced restrictions for the hospitality sector from Friday, December 4, ahead of the Christmas period, in order to reduce the opportunities for the virus to spread in our communities and to keep people safe.

“Pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes will need to close at 6pm apart from takeaway services, and will not be able to serve alcohol.

“Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, bingo halls, soft play centres and bowling alleys must close from the same date, as must indoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries and heritage sites.

“Public Health Wales strongly urges everyone to follow these rules, to avoid transmission of Coronavirus and to protect everyone in our communities, including the most vulnerable.”