WALES' chief medical officer says the pattern of coronavirus transmission in North Wales is on the decline.

Speaking at the daily ministerial media briefing from Cardiff today, Dr Frank Atherton admitted that numbers of new cases in North Wales had been higher than other regions in recent weeks, which he put down to testing starting later than in the south.

He said that he was comfortable that measures such as reopening schools could be done on a Wales-wide basis rather than on a region by region basis.

"I would day that I recognise that the numbers have been higher in North Wales than the rest of Wales recently. A large part of the reason for that, I believe, is that we have been doing more testing in North Wales, testing came online a little later and so there is a bit of catch up going on there.

"The pattern of disease transmission in North Wales appears, as in the rest of Wales, to be on the decline. That gives me some comfort that we can think about things like school opening on a Wales-wide basis rather than, at the moment, having to think about smaller geographical areas."

Today's Public Health Wales figures saw 12 of Wales' 34 new confirmed cases of the virus were in the Betsi Cadwalader Health Board area.

The number of people that have died after testing positive for coronavirus in North Wales is 286, second only in numbers to Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board.

The total number of North Wales cases is 2,888 - the highest in Wales.

Recently, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart called the region an "uncomfortable outlier" compared to the situation in the rest of Wales and the UK as a whole.

Dr Atherton said the wave of the virus did pass through North Wales later than South Wales, but that the situation was improving here.

He added that "certainly towards the end of last week there was a high number of cases which is largely reflective, we believe, of a lot more testing going on in North Wales, particularly around some of the care homes".

"When I look at the hospital admissions in North Wales and the deaths from coronavirus I see the same picture as I see in other health boards, which is one of declining incidents. So things are improving across Wales.

"I would say that the wave of coronavirus did pass through North Wales probably at a later period that South Wales, but all areas of Wales are in an improving situation."