A CORONAVIRUS surveillance team has warned that Gwynedd communities could be "next in line" to be hit by the virus as nearby hospital services are "close to breaking point".

The multi-agency Gwynedd Covid-19 Prevention and Surveillance Group (GPSG) issued the stark warning and urged residents to follow Welsh Government restrictions in order to halt the current surge in cases.

Over the last week there have been 255 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Gwynedd – a large increase from the previous week of 164 cases.

Most of these cases are the new more transmissible strain of the virus, with children far more likely to catch and spread than the previous strain.

“Cases in nearby parts of Wales are at an all-time high, with hospital services close to breaking point," said Dafydd Williams, Gwynedd Council head of environment and chair of the GPSG. "We must all act now to prevent Gwynedd communities from being next in line – I’m afraid that this is a matter of life and death.

“The new strain of the virus is far more prevalent in North Wales and testing data suggests it accounts for up to 70 per cent of new cases.

“This variant is far easier to spread to those that we are in close contact with, and we are seeing whole households being infected because it transmits so easily. Remember that some people do have COVID-19 but do not show symptoms.

“We can all be proud of the way that most people in Gwynedd have followed the rules throughout the pandemic. By doing so, they have helped to ensure that most people in this area have stayed healthy.

“We have now started the work of vaccinating local people, and this process is gathering pace. Given the sacrifices that have been made, it would be tragic if we lost control of the situation at this stage when there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Welsh Government rules state that residents must stay at home, keep at least two metres apart at all times if you have to leave the house, wash or sanitise hands regularly, and wear a good quality face covering. People who experience symptoms must isolate and seek a test and those who are diagnosed must follow self-isolation rules.

Mr Williams added: “Statistics show that people believe that they are most likely to catch Coronavirus from a stranger. In fact, we are far more likely to catch the virus by bending or breaking the rules with people we know, such as meeting-up with friends or family from outside our households.

“If we all play our part now to protect our NHS, we can then rely on it to be there for us if and when we need it.”

For more information about current Alert Level 4 restrictions in Wales, visit the Welsh Government website.