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‘Firebreak’ lockdown comes at right time as Pembs covid cases continue to rise

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TOMORROWS’s ‘firebreak’ lockdown is coming at an extremely important
time for Pembrokeshire as numbers of positive coronavirus cases rise
in the county.

That’s the message from Pembrokeshire County Council ahead of
restrictions kicking in across Wales at 6pm on Friday.

The Authority is urging people to follow the restrictions.

After months of very low numbers of cases, the county’s infection
rate, which has been rising steadily since the middle of September,
has now gone above 50 cases per 100,000 people – the rate at which
local lockdown measures would have been considered by the Welsh
Government.

Over the period 12 th – 18 th October, there were 63 positive cases in
Pembrokeshire, a rate of 50.1 cases per 100,000.

There were a further 11 cases across the county on Wednesday (21 st
October).

Cllr David Simpson, the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council,
said: “I’ve seen it said in some quarters that Pembrokeshire is unlucky
to be facing going into national lockdown because cases are so ‘low’.

“In fact, the rate has been rising in Pembrokeshire steadily and the
county would now be considered for local lockdown restrictions
anyway.

“We cannot be complacent. Cases are rising in Pembrokeshire and
this firebreak is our opportunity to get these numbers back under
control.

“If we all follow the restrictions we can get back to the low numbers of
infection that we thankfully saw for so long in Pembrokeshire.

“We must all take personal responsibility for doing what we can to
prevent the further spread of Covid-19.”

Public Health Wales now publishes maps of cases for individual areas
within local authority areas, allowing members of the public to see the
rate of infection within their locality.

The maps and all Public Health Wales tables are updated daily at
2pm. Click here for the tables.

Follow Public Health Wales on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/PublicHealthW
Or Public Health Wales on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/PublicHealthWales
A series of FAQs about the ‘firebreak’ lockdown is available at:
https://gov.wales/coronavirus-firebreak-frequently-asked-questions

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North Pembrokeshire school closures explained

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S education chief has explained the decision to keep six North Pembrokeshire schools closed today (Tuesday, 24th November).

The schools – which were also closed on Monday following the increased spread of coronavirus in South Ceredigion – are:

• Ysgol Preseli
• Ysgol y Frenni
• Ysgol Llandudoch
• Ysgol Eglwyswrw
• Ysgol Cilgerran
• Ysgol Clydau.

The Pembrokeshire schools are closed as a precaution as they share services – such as transport – with the Ceredigion schools.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s Director of Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said the decision to keep the schools closed was
based around a series of meetings yesterday involving the Authority, Ceredigion County Council and Public Health Wales.

He explained: “Due to the sheer volume of contact tracing work the Cardigan situation has resulted in – and the widespread nature of the cases now across the town – many contacts remain to be spoken to.

“The view of the Incident Management Team in Pembrokeshire was to keep the schools closed to allow the contact tracing teams time to get hold of everyone they needed to and then review the decision later today.

“Everyone can be assured that it is our intention to re-open the schools at the earliest opportunity once we are satisfied that there will be no individuals within school setting who should be self-isolating.

“There will be an announcement this afternoon about the status of the schools currently closed and teaching staff will be in touch with families to arrange blended and distant learning.

“Officers are working hard dealing with this situation and we do appreciate the inconvenience caused. However, our priority has always been tackling this pandemic and ensuring that we stop the spread of the virus.”

Mr Richards-Downes added that he was grateful to teaching staff, parents and pupils for their co-operation in what had been a challenging few days.

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Masks now advised in all secondary schools

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PUPILS across Wales are now being advised to wear facemasks in all communal areas of secondary schools (including playgrounds), colleges and on transport to and from places of learning by the Welsh Government.

Although not compulsory, the new recommendations have been made by ministers to ensure a consistent approach in tackling COVID-19 across Wales.

People picking up and dropping off children are also advised to wear face coverings too to minimise the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.

The new guidance, aimed mainly at secondary schools, which the Education Minister has described as ‘easy to follow’ was announced today and now means that the only spaces where staff and pupils can safely remove their facemasks is in the classroom.

The majority of councils already require secondary pupils and staff to wear masks in corridors and on most school transport with those rules extended to primary pupils too in some areas.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said: “It is vital that young people, parents, adults and the workforce feel confident that all measures are being taken to ensure the educational environments are as safe as possible.

“We have been clear that we will keep every policy under review and will continue to follow scientific advice. The policy we are announcing today does just that”.

The new advice has been recommended by the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group (Tag), which has been looking at the “possibility of wearing face coverings for older age groups in more circumstances, including on public and dedicated transport” and could “even include in the classroom on a risk assessed basis…. balancing benefits with harms to overall wellbeing of students.”

Tag is also looking at how feasible a mass asymptomatic testing programme in schools and colleges could be, the Welsh Government has said it is considering that approach.

Debbie Thomas, Head of Policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society Cymru, said: “Face masks and coverings in communal areas could have serious consequences for Wales’ 2,500 deaf children, almost all of whom rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate.
“Socialising in corridors, break time chats and playground games are all rites of passage, but deaf young people now risk missing out because they can’t understand what others are saying. They’re also more likely to experience loneliness, isolation and bullying.
“Public health is the priority, but schools and colleges must move quickly to introduce reasonable adjustments to help deaf young people during this difficult time.”

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Two day centres to close temporarily as a precaution

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TWO north Pembrokeshire Day facilities for older people and people with learning disabilities are to close temporarily as a precaution following the rise in coronavirus cases in Ceredigion.

Bro Preseli Day Centre in Crymych and Wintern Day Centre, Goodwick, are to close temporarily from tomorrow (Tuesday, November 24).

The decision to close each site will be reviewed regularly.

It is emphasised that there have been no positive cases of Covid-19 detected at either site and the temporary closures have been put in place as a precaution.

 

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