PEOPLE living in Powys, which borders Herefordshire, are being told they need to follow the coronavirus rules or the area risks seeing "more deaths and serious illness".

Powys County Council and Powys Teaching Health Board have made the stark warning as cases in the Welsh county continue to rise.

Yesterday (Thursday), 12 more cases were confirmed in Powys by Public Health Wales – the county's highest increase in new cases in a month.

In a joint statement, the council and health board said latest Welsh Government information shows the virus is still spreading in communities across the country, with local lockdowns now extending both north and south of Powys.

Last Friday the First Minister announced new restrictions across Wales on indoor gatherings and other measures that came into effect on Monday to help stem the spread of the virus.

But they said evidence from elsewhere in Wales suggests people are ignoring social distancing rules, as well as meeting people outside their extended household group when they should not.

Stuart Bourne, executive director for public health for Powys Teaching Health Board, said: "The measures taken in other parts of Wales, demonstrate that Covid-19 is still very much with us.

"It is essential that everyone follows the guidelines on staying safe and social distancing, otherwise we could see a situation where not only will there be more deaths and serious illness, but demand on our health services will become very high again.

"We are just beginning to re-start some of our services, and it is important that we can continue to do so, or non-Covid patients could suffer delays to the care they need."

The coronavirus infection rate in Powys now stands at 31.0 in Powys after 41 new cases in the seven days to October 6.

The infection rate, which rose from 23.4 at the same time last week, is expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people.

This is the fourth-lowest rate in the 22 local authority areas in Wales, and across the border, Herefordshire's stands at 21.3 cases per 100,000.

Leader of Powys County Council, Councillor Rosemarie Harris, said: "Our message is simple: abide by the rules set by Welsh Government.

"Do not meet socially anywhere indoors with people you do not live with unless they are part of your (exclusive) extended household. Wear face coverings in indoor public spaces.

"Travel into and out of local lockdown areas only if absolutely essential. Observe social distancing – stay two metres, three steps, away from others – and wash your hands regularly.

"We want to keep Powys safe. It's only with public support that we can do this".

There have now been 544 lab-confirmed cases of the virus in Powys since the outbreak of the pandemic, after the latest incidents were confirmed in the figures released yesterday (Wednesday, October 7).

No more people in Powys have died from the virus, according to Public Health Wales, which puts the number of confirmed deaths of people due the virus at 15.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics, 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 95, where it has remained since mid-August.

The county's infection rate now appears to have passed 25 cases per 100,000 people – the trigger point at which the Welsh Government is thought to start monitoring the advance of the virus, but still well below the level at which a local lockdown is imposed.

Eleven of the new cases in Powys were from October 5, bringing the total for that day to 13 – the most in one day since 22 cases were recorded amid increased testing in Welshpool around the Sidoli factory on September 7.