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Two new coronavirus cases in Carmarthenshire, one in Pembrokeshire

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FOUR new cases of corona-virus have been reported across the Hywel Dda Health Board area as of Sunday (Aug 16).

Three new cases have been reported in Carmarthenshire, but only one new case was reported in Pembrokeshire.

Across Wales 18 new cases were recorded as of Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 17,561.

Dr Robin Howe, of Public Health Wales, said: “The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has paused his advice to shield as the prevalence rate of the coronavirus in our communities has reduced. This means that from today (16 August) people will no longer need to shield.

“Following confirmation by the Welsh Government that the essential travel restriction on public transport will be lifted from tomorrow (Monday, 17 August), we are reminding people of the need to act responsibility when using public transport.

“This includes planning journeys to avoid busy periods if possible, washing or sanitising hands at the start and end of each trip, and wearing face coverings.

“From 22 August, providing conditions remain stable, up to four households will be able to join together to form a single extended household, and a meal following a wedding, civil partnership or funeral will be allowed for up to 30 people indoors providing social distancing can be maintained.

“We welcome the amendments to regulations making it obligatory for hospitality businesses and other settings to collect contact details of customers from next week. This information is essential for Wales’ Test, Trace, Protect strategy for testing the general public and preventing the spread of coronavirus.

“We would remind the general public that as of yesterday (Saturday 16 August) anyone who arrives in Wales from Aruba, France, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands and Turks and Caicos, or who has visited or made a transit stop in any of those countries or territories, will be required to isolate for 14 days. Advice on travelling abroad, including the latest information on quarantine requirements on returning home, can be found on the FCO website.

“Anyone with suspected symptoms of COVID-19 infection – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss of smell or taste (anosmia) – must self-isolate and seek an urgent test.

“Confirmed cases must isolate for 10 days, with members of their household isolating for 14 days until the risk of passing on further infection has gone. Combined, these simple but effective actions will ensure the virus does not spread.

“Contact tracing continues as part of the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy. Anyone who has a positive Coronavirus test will be contacted by a team of contact tracers, and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms.

“Please keep a note of your activities so you can easily remember your whereabouts on a given day, along with who you were in contact with.

“If you are asked to self-isolate, you should do so to prevent further spread of the virus.”

Two new deaths suspected of being related to coronavirus were reported to Public Health Wales- this brings the total number of Welsh deaths to 1,589.

The total number of cases in the three counties to 1,206; 828 cases in Carmarthenshire, 74 in Ceredigion and 304 in Pembrokeshire.

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Online conference will give everyone a say on transport in South West Wales

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ANYONE interested in helping to shape the future of transport in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea is invited to attend a major online event that aims to set out a clear plan for transport in the region.

This event, titled Moving Forward Together – Regional Transport Conference – South West Wales, is organised by 4theRegion and Swansea Environmental Forum and sponsored by South West Wales Connected community rail partnership and Natural Resources Wales. It runs in the mornings of Tuesday, February 9 and Wednesday, February 10, beginning at 10 am on the Tuesday with an opening address from Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Economy & Transport, Welsh Government.

The conference will provide an open forum to explore key transport challenges and opportunities, and design new solutions to move towards a greener, cleaner, healthier, more inclusive and better-connected transport system for our region.

Topics to be discussed include the transport needs of local communities, how businesses address staff transport needs, innovative approaches to travel, potential for investments and what it would really take for people to leave their cars at home more often.

Participants will get their say on what the government should be investing in, what the local authorities could be doing, and how people, communities and businesses can be part of the solution.

Organisations, businesses and community groups involved in travel and transport in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot and/or Swansea, are also being invited to get in touch regarding opportunities to showcase their work at this event.

Dawn Lyle, Chair of 4theRegion, said: “It’s time to take a fresh look at how we can better connect our region whilst reducing carbon emissions and improving health and well-being. This is an inclusive online event for car users, transport users, cyclists and pedestrians, even if you’ve never been involved in conversations about transport before. If you care about South West Wales and want to see our region flourish in the years to come, please get involved!”

If you represent an organisation, business or community group involved in travel and transport in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot and/or Swansea, and would like to showcase your work at this event, email Zoe@4theregion.com.

Philip McDonnell, Coordinator for Swansea Environmental Forum and Low Carbon Swansea Bay added: “As we journey towards a low carbon society, transport is lagging behind and remains one of the most challenging issues in both rural and urban areas in our region. The current situation is simply bad for our health and totally unsustainable. We will need everyone to get on board if we are going to tackle this.”

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Robert Street Practice has apologised to vulnerable patients over vaccine delay

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A DOCTOR’S surgery in Milford Haven has said it is sorry to its patients after admitting it will have to postpone starting its coronavirus vaccine programme due to lack of product.

The first patients due to be vaccinated were the most vulnerable – care home residents and staff – and Milford Haven residents registered at their practice over 80 years of age.

But the practice has now been informed by Hywel Dda Health Board that it cannot order any stock of vaccines until later this month, so will not be able to start inoculations until February at the earliest.

It is because one of four batches of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, being used for the rollout in GP surgeries in Wales, has been delayed.

Speaking during a press conference on Friday, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said the country had had around 300,000 vaccine doses delivered to them.

Mr Drakeford explained that Wales has received roughly 50,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and 250,000 of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – but the latter cannot be used in GP surgeries easily because it must be kept at very low temperatures until a few days before use.

On other words, Wales does not have enough of the right type of vaccine for GP surgeries.

On its official Facebook page, the Robert Street practice said: “[We] wish to apologize as we are experiencing a delay in being able to start vaccinating Tier 1 and 2 patients against COVID. These tiers include care home residents and their staff, NHS staff and all patients over 80.

“All our staff are keen and fully trained to be able to start this campaign as soon as possible but our practice has been informed by Hywel Dda Health Board that we are not able to order any stock of vaccines until hopefully week commencing 25th January.

“This is out of our control totally. We have been advised to not make definite plans until we have full confirmation so will inform those patients who currently qualify as soon as we are able to access stock.

“We hope to commence as soon as we can in February. We apologize for any inconvenience or worry this may cause.”

The Welsh Government said the delay in receiving sufficient Oxford/AstraZenica stocks would not impact their wider aim to vaccinate around 750,000 of the most vulnerable people by the middle of February.

A spokesman said: “We were recently notified that one of the four batches of the vaccine we had anticipated receiving this week will be delayed, and not available until the week commencing 25 January.

“This does not affect our overall expected delivery volumes or expectations for hitting the milestones set out in our Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy for Wales.”

According to the BBC, each batch contains about 26,000 doses.

It is understood that the delay will also impact on supplies in other parts of the UK in the coming week.

Welsh Government has also confirmed that it plans are in place to utilise all of Wales’ current supply of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine by early February.

A spokesman told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “By mid-February and subject to supply, our aim is to offer vaccinations to all care home residents and staff; frontline health and social care staff; those 70 years of age and over; and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.”

Other GP surgeries in Wales have also apologised for delays.

However Stephen Crabb said that there was better news on vaccines following his weekly meeting with the Local Health Board.

He said: “Pembrokeshire will see a vaccination centre open next week.

“This is certainly encouraging – and it’s what I’ve been calling for since the start of the vaccination programme. It will focus on delivering the Pfizer vaccine to local health and social care staff for the time-being.”

But the Preseli Pembrokeshire MP did not seem to know about delivery delays.

Mr Crabb said: “A further delivery of AstraZeneca vaccine doses will see GP surgeries across Pembrokeshire delivering vaccinations next week to their vulnerable patients. I will continue to stay in touch with the LHB on a daily basis to monitor progress.

South Pembrokeshire’s Simon Hart MP said on his Facebook page on Saturday (Jan 16): “So far approximately 15,930 local residents have been vaccinated or about 4.1% of the population. Initially this has focussed on NHS and care staff who have contact with patients but has no moved into the first cohorts of more vulnerable people.

“As many people will know, the plan across the UK, is to vaccinate Cohorts 1-4 by the middle of February. These cohorts, people over 70 and the very vulnerable, account for 88% of all hospital admissions.

“Next week the health board will receive a further 15,000 Oxford Astra Zenica vaccinations, and 6,000 more Pfizer vaccinations.

“Crucially for residents in Pembrokeshire (where concerns have been raised about a lack of facilities and a slow start for the over 80’s) plans are advancing quickly for new vaccination centres in both the North and South of the County as well as in all GP surgeries.

“Our “strike-rate” in Wales is still a little behind the rest of the UK at 3,215/100k of population compared with 4,005/100k in England, but we are assured that provision of vaccines is evenly distributed throughout the whole UK.

“Its worth pointing out that this is a mammoth task and many thousands of people in the NHS, MoD and many other areas are doing a remarkable job and that the UK is currently third in the world in its vaccination programme.”

“As of lunchtime today, over 15,000 vaccination had taken place across the 3 counties in the LHB area – 4.1% of our population.

“This is positive although the proportion of over 80’s who have been vaccinated is considerably lower than in England. This is where we need to see progress now. Getting vaccines to the most vulnerable ensures more lives are saved.

“Our hospitals remain under pressure so it is still really important that we follow the guidance. But today’s update from the Health Board shows we are moving in the right direction.”

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Police investigating asylum seeker protests for possible breach of coronavirus rules

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE says it is investigating the recent protests by service users at the Asylum Accommodation Centre, Penally.

The initial protest Wednesday night (Jan 13) saw around thirty asylum seekers from Penally camp march into Tenby, eventually heading out of the town around 10.30 pm.

On Thursday afternoon they were back in Tenby again, but this time in slightly larger numbers chanting: “Freedom! Not Prison!”

Superintendent Anthony Evans, Divisional Commander for Pembrokeshire, said: “While we will always work to facilitate peaceful protest, we are in very challenging times, and each and every one of us is being directed to comply with laws put in place to protect public health.

“We are in regular contact with management and service users at the Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre, and have built positive relationships with them and the local community.

“Together with others who are working with the individuals at the centre, we have engaged and encouraged compliance with the regulations to ensure social distancing.

“Following this week’s protests on foot, police have visited the Asylum Accommodation Centre and further engaged with service users. Welsh Government coronavirus regulations have been
reinforced and we are gathering evidence to enable enforcement where appropriate.

“Everyone is asked to do what we should do, not what we believe we can do, in order to minimise travel and contact with those outside our households.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn issued the following statement: “The situation at the Penally Asylum Accommodation Centre is complex and sensitive, and I would like to reassure the local communities of Penally and Tenby, that I am regularly being updated by Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Officers of developments in and around the Centre.

“I’m aware that police were in attendance during protests that have taken place this week, and I was pleased to hear that the protests were peaceful with no disorder reported.

“These are extremely difficult times for all of us. I have seen first-hand the difficult circumstances encountered by individuals that are residing at the centre and I have met with the

Chief Inspector of Asylum and Immigration who gave me assurances about an independent inspection that will take place in the near future.

“However, now is not the time to be gathering to hold protests, and I can understand the frustrations of the local communities when observing such activities.

“Officers will and have been acting accordingly when Covid-19 regulations are breached, and I’m reassured that the Force have been liaising with the site management team to educate them of the Force’s four E principles’ approach – engage, explain, encourage and enforce.

“I am also pushing for additional funding from the Home Office to support local resources that have been put under pressure as a result of the decision to utilise the camp as an asylum centre.

“In the meantime, we remain in regular contact with local partners and service providers, monitoring all situations around the facility.”

MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and Wales’ Secretary of State, Simon Hart said “I agree with local residents that this appears to make a mockery of Covid rules which people have worked so hard to observe.

“I have asked the Home Office and Police and Crime Commissioner (for Dyfed-Powys police) for an urgent explanation as to how they plan ensure that Covid rules are properly and evenly applied.”

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