No coronavirus deaths have been reported in Wales for the second time this week.

Public Health Wales (PHW) confirmed on Thursday, July 16, that it had received no reports of deaths with lab-confirmed Covid-19.

It means the overall total recorded by the NHS trust remains at 1,545 since the outbreak began.

It is the fifth time there have been no new deaths reported in the previous 24 hours, following the same announcement on July 6, 10, 12 and 13.

The days in which no new deaths have been reported to PHW are different to the 24-hour periods in which no deaths occurred as it can be several days before a death is logged officially.

The days in which no deaths with Covid-19 have occurred in Wales are June 18, July 3, July 10 and July 12. So far this week there have been no deaths that have occurred since Monday which have been registered with PHW.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the true death toll in Wales, where the virus was mentioned on a death certificate, was 2,470 by July 11.

Meanwhile, PHW said the number of lab-confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in Wales had increased by 18 to bring the total to 16,871.

Wrexham had five new cases followed by Conwy with four. Monmouthshire, Anglesey, Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Merthyr Tydfil, Carmarthenshire, Powys and Neath Port Talbot all had one new case. All other local authorities had no new cases.

And even though testing capacity stands at 15,000 each day in Wales just 4,319 tests were carried out on Wednesday, July 15.

New coronavirus cases today

Cumulative number of deaths reported in Wales

The latest figures were announced following a press conference with Wales' chef medical officer Dr Frank Atherton who announced that shielding for vulnerable and elderly people will be "paused" from next month.

Around 130,000 people in Wales have been advised to take shielding measures since the start of the pandemic because they are at high risk of developing serious illness if they contract coronavirus.

The change in the advice means that, from August 16, people in the shielding group can go to work or to school and go shopping.

But they should continue to take steps to protect themselves from coronavirus by keeping a two-metre distance from others and washing their hands frequently.

Dr Atherton has previously advised all those shielding can take unlimited exercise outdoors and meet with members of one other household outdoors. People who are shielding can also form part of an extended household.

"Tens of thousands of people have made some very significant personal sacrifices to follow the guidance and to protect their health during the height of the pandemic," he said.

"I want to thank them for that because it has not been easy. I also want to thank everyone who has supported those who have been shielding.

"Shielding is a huge request for someone to undertake, so it’s important that we don’t ask people to shield for longer than is necessary.

"As the level of the virus in our communities is now low, shielding should pause from August 16.

"This means those who have been shielding can gradually resume day-to-day life, but taking extra care around physical distancing and hand washing.

"We will keep this under review and if we see transmission levels increase, we may need to consider advising the shielding group to take extra precautions and measures to protect themselves in the future."

Dr Frank Atherton delivers the Welsh Government coronavirus briefing

Although shielding is pausing, the list will be maintained. Over the summer, a review will be undertaken of all children on the shielding list.

The Welsh Government will look at latest guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to determine whether each child needs to remain on the list.

Dr David Tuthill, Wales Officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "We now know more about coronavirus than we did a few months ago and have been able to update our guidance based on the evidence developed over those months.

"Serious illness from the virus in children is very rare and shielding itself brings its own problems for children.

"The lockdown has been tough for all children who have missed out on school, play and seeing friends – but especially for those who have been shielding.

"Should we face further outbreaks, we can be confident that the vast majority of children, including those under the sole care of a GP, will not need to shield. We hope this announcement will be good news for many families."

Dr Atherton said that the number of people dying with coronavirus in Wales has fallen to single figures frequently over recent weeks.

Wales has also seen a number of days in the last week where there were no deaths reported.

"I would like to add my condolences to all those families across Wales who have lost a loved one over the last few months.," he said.

"But all this doesn't mean that coronavirus has gone away. We must all continue to take sensible measures to protect ourselves and reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

"The most effective ways to do that are to maintain a two-metre distance and to wash your hands often."

Currently around 4,000 people are being tested for the virus each but the rate of positive tests as the moment is 0.5%. At its peak, the positivity rate was around 43%.

Dr Atherton also stated that face masks were not a substitute for maintaining social distancing and good hygiene.

He said: "I want to be clear that maintaining a two-metre distance, avoiding touching surfaces and your face and washing your hands often are the most effective measures you can take to protect yourself from coronavirus.

"Face coverings are not a substitute for these measures.

"We have been advising for some time that in some circumstances, in line with WHO guidance, particularly in crowded areas, people may want to wear a three-layer, non-medical face covering.

"We are now moving to a position where it will be compulsory for people to wear a face covering when travelling on buses, trains and in taxis from July 27".

Dr Atherton warned that it was uncertain how the pandemic will evolve in the winter months, adding that Wales needs to "hope for the best and plan for the worst".

"It might be that we are fortunate and continue to have low levels of the virus", he said.

"We may also see flare ups occur in some locations, as we have already."

He added that the prospect of a second wave was "always there".

"We just don't know what will happen in the autumn when the circumstances for viral transmission is more favourable," he said, adding that the more social mixing we have, the higher the risk is for viral resurgence.

Dr Atherton said the Welsh NHS is working on the assumption that there will be a second spike in viral transmission.

"We hope that may not be the case but we have to plan for that," he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Atherton also issued an apology to people waiting for non-urgent NHS treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most routine elective appointments and procedures were put on hold in March so resources and staff could be prioritised for Covid patients.