LATEST figures show that 42 people in Powys have tested positive for coronavirus in the county during the last 24 hours.

It takes the cumulative number of cases in the county close to 3,000 since the pandemic started – with a total of 2,969 cases recorded in Powys.

There has been one more death recorded, taking the number of people who have died in Powys up to 38, according to Public Health Wales (PHW) stats. However, that number is 154 according to more accurate Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

Deaths of Powys residents can be skewed because many of the county’s patients deemed acute are transferred to hospitals in England. ONS figures are therefore usually 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.

The fight against the virus stepped up in Powys this week, with news that the county’s third mass vaccination site opened in Builth Wells.

The site, at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd, has already been acting as a mobile test centre throughout the pandemic, but has now become fully operational and acts in the same capacity as sites in Newtown and Bronllys.

The centre will be open seven days a week from 8am to 8.30pm. It comes in a week that health minister Vaughan Gething announced the Powys sites will be three of 35 vaccination centres operational across Wales in the coming weeks. It is believed 22 are up and running so far.

Steve Hughson, CEO of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, posted a behind the scenes video on his Twitter page on Wednesday afternoon, providing an insight into the scale of the operation on the showground.

“We’ve worked really hard to create this vaccination centre on the showground, despite the challenges we face as a society,” said Mr Hughson.

“When this gets fully up and running it’s going to make a great impact on this pandemic, which we need to get rid of before we can get events back on the showground.”

Powys Teaching Health Board has thanked members of the RAF who are playing their part in supporting the coronavirus vaccine role out in the county

A spokesman said: “We at Powys Teaching Health Board would like to express our thanks to the six members of the RAF who are supporting us with the roll out of COVID vaccinations.

“A long way from home, the unit is normally based at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire but has settled into helping with the effort to get as many people booked in for their vaccinations in Powys as possible.”

Three care homes in Powys, meanwhile, are leading the charge after announcing they have already given all residents the first of the two vaccine jabs.

Every resident at Prestemede care home in Presteigne, Cartref Dyfi in Machynlleth and Cartref care home in Hay-on-Wye have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccination, providing them with a high level of protection from the virus.

Shaw healthcare, which operates all three and nine other care homes in Powys on behalf of Powys County Council, is aiming to have all its residents and staff receiving the first dose of the vaccine by the end of January – several weeks ahead of the Welsh Government’s target.

Powys stats:

Confirmed cases – 2,969

New cases in January 14 data – 42

Rate of new cases per 100,000 in week to January 9 – 206.9

Powys position among Welsh local authorities for rate of new cases – 15th out of 22

Newly-confirmed cases day-by-day:

Thursday, January 14 – 42

Wednesday, January 13 – 18

Tuesday, January 12 - 30

Monday, January 11 - 69

Saturday/Sunday, January 9/10 - 75

Friday, January 8 - 43

Thursday, January 7 – 37

The national picture:

A further 54 people are reported to have died in Wales with coronavirus, PHW has said.

It takes the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 4,117. There were also 1,644 new Covid infections reported in Wales, taking the total number of cases to 176,056.

PHW is now also providing daily updates of the number of people who have had a vaccine, which currently stands at 112,973. Of those, 121 have received two doses.

Of the deaths reported today, 18 were in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area, 11 in Swansea Bay and 10 in Aneurin Bevan. Six more were reported by the Betsi Cadwaladr health board, five in Cardiff and Vale and three in Hywel Dda. One death was reported in Powys.

Hospitals in the area with Wales and England's worst Covid death rates are only coping by postponing urgent surgery such as cancer operations.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg, which covers Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil, had already suspended some non-emergency services but the boss of the health board said they have now paused some urgent procedures.

“It's tough times,” Cwm Taf's medical director Nick Lyons told BBC Radio Wales.

“We are coping, but that's coping because we've been cancelling urgent surgery.

“We even had to cancel some cancer surgery over the last few weeks.

“My heart goes out to families and to patients with all the stress and the worry that gives. It's tough times and we're all in it together, and we do see that optimism, that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel but it's hard.”

It comes as NHS bosses said the number of Covid patients in Welsh hospitals is double April's peak.

Hundreds of students, meanwhile, are preparing to take part in rent strikes after paying for “hardly used” rooms during the pandemic.

Some Welsh universities have already offered refunds to students who have been living away due to Covid-19. But students in Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor claim they are being treated unfairly and are threatening to withhold rent.

Universities said they were trying to work out the implications of Covid-19. And a solicitor warned students they could face legal action for not paying rent, with long-term implications possible if they lose.

Face-to-face teaching was suspended and many students moved back home before Christmas as coronavirus cases continued to rise. Staggered returns are being introduced in order to “help stop the spread of the virus in student accommodation”, according to the Welsh Government.

Public Health Wales' statement:

Dr Eleri Davies, incident director for the coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “The number of positive coronavirus cases remains extremely high in Wales and is cause for serious concern, due to the impact on NHS Wales services.

“All of Wales remains in lockdown. We ask that the public adopts the same mindset for this lockdown as they did in March 2020. We understand that people are fatigued but because the new, more infectious variant of coronavirus is circulating across Wales it is vital that we all keep to the lockdown restrictions and not to meet other people.

“This means stay at home. If exercising outdoors, please do this alone or with members of your household or support bubble only. Shop online, but if you do need to visit essential retail then do this alone, if possible, to minimise numbers of people in retail spaces, and avoid stopping to chat with people outside your household. If you must leave home keep your distance, wash your hands regularly, and wear a face mask when required according to the regulations.”