EMERGENCY powers sought by Wales to tackle Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be introduced by the UK Government.

News of the emergency powers comes as the Chief Medical Officer for Wales confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 in Wales on Sunday, bringing the total number to four.

The legislation will apply across the four UK nations.

The minister said: “These emergency powers will allow us to respond quickly and effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak by strengthening quarantine and mass gathering powers.

“They will also allow us to employ volunteers and staff who've recently left the NHS, and will allow for the closure of schools and colleges if necessary to contain the spread of the virus.

“Public safety is my absolute top priority and we are working around the clock to deal with the impact of COVID-19. These powers are an important, proportionate and coordinated response to help us do that.

“Waiting for these powers does not mean we’ve been unable to take a range of action here already. This week, further measures across Wales will include issuing personal protection equipment to all GP surgeries.

”We will also, this week, give details of plans for video consultations for people in Wales to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect frontline staff. This follows the introduction of the NHS Wales online symptom checker which is another important tool to support anyone concerned they may require testing.”

Coronavirus presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.

Dr Giri Shankar, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said on Sunday:

“Following today’s announcement by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales of two further Novel Coronavirus cases in Wales, Public Health Wales is in the process of identifying and contacting close contacts, and we are taking all appropriate actions to protect the public’s health.

“The Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that the two individuals, who are residents of the same household, had travelled back to Wales from Northern Italy. Both individuals have been in self-isolation since their return to Wales.

“Both individuals have been assessed by a specialist infectious disease consultant and they are being managed in a clinically appropriate setting.

“The public can be assured that Wales and the whole of the UK is prepared for these types of incidents. Working with our partners in Wales and the UK, we have implemented our planned response, with robust infection control measures in place to protect the health of the public.

“All Welsh residents who meet the current testing criteria for Novel Coronavirus are being offered testing.

"As of Friday 6 March, 634 people in Wales have been tested for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). We will be publishing the number of people tested in Wales every Thursday at 3pm.

“We would encourage people to check the updated advice for returning travellers, which now includes guidance for those returning from Italy, China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Iran.

“Members of the public can help protect themselves and others by always carrying tissues, and using them to catch coughs or sneezes. They should bin the tissue, and to kill the germs, wash their hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel. This is the best way to slow the spread of most germs."