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Flu sufferers being urged to ‘think carefully’ before seeking assistance

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WITH a recent rise in the number of recorded cases, health professionals are reminding people affected by flu to think carefully before seeking further medical assistance.

To ensure busy emergency services and GP practices are able to save lives and help those most in need, it is important to remember the vast majority of healthy people with symptoms of flu don’t need to see a doctor.

Flu is a viral infection for which antibiotics are not helpful – instead, the advice if you believe you may have flu symptoms is to stay home from work, school and other public places for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to avoid infecting other people, drink plenty of fluids, take ibuprofen or paracetamol and avoid any contact particularly with vulnerable individuals while you have symptoms.

Most people will feel better within a week of becoming infected with the flu virus, although coughing may last for another one or two weeks. People are advised to have a look at the NHS Direct Wales symptom checker for cold and flu advice.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda explains how people can look after themselves this winter: “The first line of defence should be for people to get their flu vaccination so I would urge those of you that haven’t had your vaccine to contact your community pharmacy for advice on whether you are eligible. This is particularly important as we are now seeing cases of flu in the community, with numbers set to rise over the coming weeks.

“Free flu vaccination is available every year to people in at-risk groups – including those aged 65 and over, people with certain long-term health conditions, pregnant women, frontline healthcare workers, carers and young children. Anyone who has missed out on vaccination this year should speak to their pharmacist for advice; it is not too late for you to protect yourself and your family by having the flu vaccine.

“Health and social care workers are also strongly advised to get their flu vaccination from their local occupational health departments to protect the patients they care for.

“Viruses such as flu can be extremely serious for sick and vulnerable patients and we are asking for your support to protect patients and healthcare workers including not going to visit patients in hospitals and care homes if feeling unwell, we want to limit the spread of conditions such as flu and Norovirus.”

To help reduce the chances of flu spreading, people should:
•         Catch it: always cough or sneeze into a tissue
•         Bin it: dispose of the tissue after use
•         Kill it: then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to kill any flu viruses

The public are also reminded to use local community pharmacy services to help reduce pressure on busy A&E departments this winter. These include a Common Ailments Service which covers a number of conditions whereby participating pharmacists can assess and provide medication at no charge, if suitable, without the need for a prescription and also, in participating community pharmacies, the Triage and Treat service to support those affected by low-level injury or illness. Visit www.hyweldda.wales.nhs.uk/winterwise for further details.

Mrs Jervis added: “We’re asking people who may be experiencing flu-like symptoms to call their GP surgery or visit https://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/SelfAssessments/symptomchecker/coldflu rather than attend the surgery or an A&E department, which can increase the risk of spreading infection to others.”

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No one wants a ‘concentration camp’ for asylum seekers in Penally

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A COUNTY COUNCILLOR is slamming the Home Office for creating a “concentration camp” in Pembrokeshire.

Cllr Paul Dowson says that putting people in huts behind barbed wire fences against their will, against the will of the people of Pembrokeshire, and against the will of community and religious leaders of all faiths “is nothing short of barbaric, is immoral and is probably unlawful.”

His words come as a letter sent by leaders at Pembrokeshire Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board, along with local faith leaders, to the Secretary of State for the Home Department is stating that proper consultation would have made it ‘immediately clear’ that Penally was not suitable for an asylum seeker camp.

‘It is unprecedented in Wales that people seeking asylum are ‘cohorted’ together in such a large number in unsuitable accommodation. We have real concerns that they are being moved out of rented accommodation within the Wales refugee support network.’, the letter states.

Demo to support asylum seekers in Penally (Photo Herald)

The letter shows community leaders are for supporting those in need of asylum, but not in unsuitable accommodation. The letter goes on to say: “We are keen to hold out the hand of friendship to those in need but we are also aware of the feelings of local residents and are keen to maintain a sense of ‘community cohesion.”

More protests took place in Penally on Saturday (Sept 26). At 11am those supporting the asylum seekers, around 70 in number, gathered holding colourful banners and placards.

The Liberal Democrats, Welsh Labour, and unions were all represented. There were several photographers from national, regional and local press as well as a BBC camera crew and documentary film makes from London present. During the demonstration which lasted for about an hour and a half speeches were made by Jim Scott (People’s Assembly Wales), Alistair Cameron (Lib Dem) and Marc Tierney (Labour). There were a similar number of anti-asylum seeker protestors on the other side of a line of police – holding banners, and signs. They moved to the main gate once the other protestors had left.

At 1pm they held one minute’s silence for Matiu Ratana, the New Zealand born police officer who was shot at a police station in London on Friday.

Cllr Paul Dowson was at the protest he said that he was there to support the voice of the real people of Pembrokeshire who were against the camp being used for asylum seekers. Cllr Dowson called for all sides to join together as one voice.

“We have to stop this concentration camp from being in operation. Everyone has got the same goal. Today we saw two groups of people from our community separated by a line of police officers. But why do we need to be separated. Every single person here, on both sides, does not think that this camp is suitable for asylum seekers. The council thinks the same, the police think the same, the health board thinks the same, the church leaders think the same.

“We have seen people in the camp shout that they are being kept against their will and want freedom.”

“People may think that calling this a concentration camp is harsh – but the legal definition is a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms. That is exactly what is happening here.”

“I will be doing what I can to get all sides together to form one voice for Pembrokeshire – one united people to turn up the pressure on Westminster to get these poor people moved out of our county to somewhere more suitable, so Penally can get back to normal, and so Pembrokeshire people can breathe easy again.”

Below is the full letter sent to the Home Secretary.

The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Home Secretary
Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

Dear Home Secretary

We are writing to you to express our concern about the decision to relocate asylum seekers in Penally, Pembrokeshire. We are particularly disappointed by the lack of communication and discussion with local stakeholders such as Pembrokeshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board and the local community.

Proper consultation would have immediately made it clear that Penally Camp is unsuitable accommodation, particularly for men who may have experienced trauma, great hardship and have been separated from their families. The buildings are in a poor condition, in a rural location with one village shop and no established support network. It is unprecedented in Wales that people seeking asylum are ‘cohorted’ together in such a large number in unsuitable accommodation. We have real concerns that they are being moved out of rented accommodation within the Wales refugee support network.

We have four dispersal centres in Wales: Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham. These areas have well- established infrastructures to welcome and care for asylum seekers. Accommodation, health, pastoral and cultural care and legal advice are readily available and funded in these areas No such infrastructure or funding exists in Pembrokeshire. It is our opinion that this decision is wrong both for our local community and for the welfare of these men who are seeking sanctuary in our Country.
Pembrokeshire is a warm, welcoming county and we can assure you that those who live here would be only too keen to show their compassion for those who have suffered greatly. Sadly, the way in which this sensitive issue has been handled can only have added to their trauma and given them the wrong impression of the area in which we live.
It has also created a sense of fear and uncertainty among those who live here.
We are keen to hold out the hand of friendship to those in need but we are also aware of the feelings of local residents and are keen to maintain a sense of ‘community cohesion.’ If there had been a more considered and caring approach, we would not have witnessed the ugly scenes that took place outside the camp last Monday (21st September 2020).

It is vital that all stakeholders be involved in any future decisions. We need no ‘winners’ and losers. We will all lose if we do not move together. We will do all we can to support both the local community and the asylum seekers you intend to place here, but we ask you to listen to our real concerns and reverse your decision.

Yours sincerely

Cllr David Simpson: Leader, Pembrokeshire County Council
Ian Westley: Chief Executive, Pembrokeshire County Council
Maria Battle: Chair, Hywel Dda University Health Board
Steve Moore: Chief Executive, Hywel Dda University Health Board
Angela Burns MS: Member of the Senedd for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Cllr Jonathan Preston: Pembrokeshire County Council (Penally)
Reverend Rob James: Church Moderator, Deer Park Baptist Church, Tenby
Reverend Stella Hayton: Minister St John’s Methodist and United Reformed Church in Tenby and United Reform Churches in Pembroke, Templeton and Reynalton
Reverend Michael Bave: Bethel Baptist Church, Pembroke Dock
Father Mansel Usher: Holyrood and St Teilo’s Catholic Church Tenby and St Brides Saundersfoot
Father Matt Roche-Saunders: St David & St Patrick Catholic Church, Haverfordwest
Father Liam Bradley: St David and St Patrick Catholic Church, Haverfordwest
Abdul Haseeb Hussain: Imam Hamad Bin Khalifa Islamic Centre, Milford Haven
Dr Baba M Gana: Chairman, West Wales Islamic Cultural Association
Euryl Howells: Senior Chaplin, Hywel Dda University Health Board

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Alcohol sale restrictions come into force

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ALL LICENSED premises in Pembrokeshire must now stop selling alcohol at 10pm.

The move is part of further Welsh Government restrictions introduced yesterday (Thursday) to prevent the spread of coronavirus across Wales.

The main points of the legislation are:
• All licensed premises must stop serving alcohol at 10pm.
• Pubs, bars and restaurants must close to the public at 10.20pm and not re-open until 6am.
• All businesses with a licence to serve alcohol must now serve customers sitting at a table. Customers must order, consume and pay for food and drink at that table.
• Supermarkets, off-licences and convenience stores must stop selling alcohol in-store from 10pm but can remain open beyond 10.20pm.

Further information relating to the new restrictions and hospitality and retail businesses is available at: https://gov.wales/hospitality-and-retail-businesses-frequently-asked-questions

The rules on the wearing of face coverings in hospitality premises has also changed.

Customers entering and leaving restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes and walking around the premises are now required to wear a face covering.

Customers are permitted to remove face coverings when seated at a table to eat and drink.

Staff working at restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes must now wear a face covering.

Face coverings are mandatory for everyone aged 11 and over in all indoor public spaces, unless you have a reasonable excuse not to wear one.

Members of the public are also encouraged to download and use the NHS Covid-19 app.

The app was launched yesterday and is available for both Android and Apple IOS operating systems.

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Former RAF sergeant jailed for historical sexual offences against junior officer

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A FORMER RAF sergeant has been jailed for sexual offences more than 40 years after abusing a junior officer.

Kenneth John Preston, formerly of Crundale in Haverfordwest, was found guilty of indecently assaulting a young recruit at a former RAF base in Pembrokeshire, following a three year investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police.

Despite more than 40 years having passed since the offences took place, detectives successfully overcame challenges in the investigation to secure charges against the now 77-year-old.

He was found guilty of five charges following a trial at Swansea Crown Court.

Officer in case Detective Constable Ben Staniforth said: “This case was brought to our attention by another police force after the victim reported non-recent sexual offences which took place in Pembrokeshire.

“He had reported being assaulted on numerous occasions while stationed at an RAF base in the 1970s by Kenneth Preston, who was an officer senior to him.

“He had carried the weight of these incidents for 40 years, and had found the strength and confidence to come forward and report what had happened to him.”

Officers learned that Preston had targeted the victim while he was a teenager, taking him to secluded areas to sexually abuse him, and threatening to ‘make his life hell’ if he reported the assaults.

Both the suspect and the victim were discharged from the military, but no allegations were made to police until 2017.

CID officers immediately commenced enquiries, but with no CCTV, no forensic opportunities, and military documents no longer available, the scope for investigation was narrow.

DC Staniforth explained: “There are many reasons victims do not come forward until many years have passed. In this case, going against the military rank system and accusing a senior officer.

“Allegations of non-recent offences require a different approach to recent incidents as the passing of time means many routes of enquiry are unavailable.

“Before our investigation could fully get underway, we had to establish if the suspect was alive, as we were aware he would be in his late 70s. While we can investigate complaints against people who are deceased, no charges can be made against them.

“We discovered that Preston was indeed alive and living in the Cornwall area, and arrangements were made to interview him.”

He provided a prepared statement admitting to sexual activity with the victim, but stating it was with consent. This prepared statement – along with consistent disclosures made by the victim to family, friends and a GP in the years before reporting to police – was a key factor in the defendant being charged.

Preston was summonsed to appear at court charged with five counts of indecent assault in May 2019, however delays meant the trial did not take place until September 2020, when he was found guilty of all charges.

He was sentenced on September 18 at Swansea Crown Court, where he was handed an 18-month prison sentence, must continue to register as a sex offender – he is registered after admitting to offences in a separate case – and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

DC Staniforth said: “I hope this conviction gives confidence to other victims of sexual abuse that they can still come forward and report offences many years after they have taken place, and encourages them to take the first step.

“There are people who have struggled to cope with this kind of abuse for many years, but times have changed and there are a number of support networks out there for people who feel it is time to speak – whether they report the matter to police or not.

“I would like to commend the victim for his bravery in speaking out against a senior who abused his position and caused him to lose his military career, and for his patience and cooperation during the investigation.”

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