THERE may be an "upsurge" of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in April, resulting in a peak in May, the chief medical officer for Wales has said.

Dr Frank Atherton told a press conference in Cardiff Bay that how matters develop over the next few weeks will be "critical" in shaping how the UK adapts its response.

"The best guess is then a period of six to eight weeks of quite significant levels of transmission in the UK, with a tapering perhaps in July and August - so an upsurge in April, possible peak in May/June and a downturn later in the year," he said.

"There is now an opportunity for calm preparation. Most cases, if it does take off in the UK, are likely to be very mild."

People who suspect they have coronavirus are encouraged to stay away from hospitals and GP surgeries and to contact NHS 111, which has now been made fully available across Wales.

Dr Atherton said: "We have to think about our most vulnerable communities and how to protect them.

"If you think about the most vulnerable populations, they are often in nursing homes or care homes.

"I think we need to intensify the advice to people that if you have a cold or flu-like illness, don't go and visit your auntie in a care home."

The conference follows Wales' first confirmed case of the virus last week, after a patient returned to Swansea from Northern Italy.

A joint plan to contain the coronavirus, unveiled on Tuesday, has been developed by all four nations of the UK.

Responding to the government's plans, Dr Helena Mckeown, a chief medical officer at the British Medical Association, said the impact on the NHS could be 'grave' if the virus escalates in scale.

"If the virus escalates in scale, the impact on an NHS that is already under intense strain, with record numbers of patients on waiting lists, people routinely being treated in hospital corridors and others waiting weeks for a GP appointment, will be grave," she said.

" The public and our members will be rightly worried about how services will cope.

“As outlined in the Government’s plans, difficult decisions may need to be made around admissions, delaying treatment and prioritising those patients who are the most poorly - something that will no doubt cause real concern among both patients and clinicians."

Vaughan Gething, Secretary for Health and Social Services in Wales, said additional centres to treat patients affected by the coronavirus could be opened.

There are currently four designated isolation centres in England for those diagnosed as having the virus.

"Preparations in Wales have included developing our own test for the virus and establishing community testing," he said.

"The vast majority of tests to date have been undertaken in the community."

Novel Coronavirus, a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization in January.

Typical symptoms include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

In total, 450 people have been tested for the virus in Wales and there has been one confirmed case.

For updated information regarding the coronavirus in Wales, visit://