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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.

 

Health

Faulty Covid swabs may have led to ‘false positives’ in Wales

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A NUMBER of faulty Covid swabs may have led to false positive coronavirus test results, the Welsh Government has said.

Concerns have been raised over a “small proportion” of affected Covid-19 swabs which were used in hospital settings, health board-run community testing units, and Welsh Ambulance Service Trust mobile testing units.

The official statement reads: “As a result of the laboratory testing quality control measures in place and the diligence of Public Health Wales laboratory staff, we became aware on Friday 15 January 2021 of an issue affecting a small number of swabs used in sampling for Covid-19.

“These swabs are used to sample for Covid-19 in hospital settings, at health board-run community testing units and WAST-operated mobile testing units. These swabs are not used by the lighthouse labs and so tests undertaken through our regional and local testing sites are unaffected.

“As soon as this problem was discovered, all microbiology labs and testing centres in Wales were notified so that the affected swabs could be taken out of circulation.

“NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership is working with Public Health Wales, Local Health Boards, the manufacturer of the swabs COPAN and the UK supplier/distributor Thermo Fisher Scientific to identify and isolate the swabs potentially affected to prevent their on-going use.

“The affected swabs were shipped into Wales direct from the manufacturer COPAN between 18 November and 14 December 2020. NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership has isolated all relevant supplies as a precaution while further investigations are undertaken.

“Public Health Wales have advised that where these swabs have been used they pose little or no risk to public health. As a safeguard, further checks are being undertaken. The issue detected may have affected the accuracy of a small proportion of test results leading to false positives. However, based on what we currently know Public Health Wales is confident that this does not affect the overall epidemiological picture.

“The Covid-19 Test, Trace, Protect system continues to operate as normal and alternative swabs are being used.”

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Twenty asylum seekers from Penally Camp have been transferred out

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TWENTY asylum seekers from Penally Camp have been transferred to alternative accommodation.

There was a public outcry from local residents at the demonstrations by the camp residents which took place on Wednesday and Thursday last week during the lockdown.

The men at the camp told a Herald reporter that they were unhappy with the standard of their accommodation at the former military base and were complaining about the poor food, lack of sanitation and being told to sleep six to a room during the pandemic.

A representative from the law firm representing the group of men said that the Men housed at the camp are, understandably, becoming increasingly desperate and it is likely that a “serious incident will occur” unless urgent action is taken.

The spokesperson said: “We have brought the serious vulnerabilities of our clients to the attention of the Home Office. Their response to date has been to transfer the twenty men to alternative accommodation. We cannot, and should not have to, make transfer requests on behalf of every person housed at the camp for the Home Office to recognise that this is unacceptable.”

The news comes as a coronavirus outbreak at a former army barracks being used to house asylum seekers in Kent could now have grown to at least 100 positive cases according to an ITV News report on Wednesday (Jan 19)

Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the lack of response from the Home Office to a Parliamentary Question from Wendy Chamberlain MP who had asked about what plans there were to relocate the rest of the asylum seekers at Penally Camp to alternative accommodation.

In response the Home Office Minister, Chris Philp MP, said that a rapid review had recommended that the Home Office conducts a ‘deep dive’ on its approach to initial accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alistair Cameron, Welsh Liberal Democrat Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire told The Herald: “Mr Philp needs to speak in plain English and say exactly what he means by a ‘deep dive’.

The Asylum Seekers are staying in the middle of Winter in army barracks which are unsuitable as long term accommodation. They are sleeping 6 to a room and run the risk of being infected with coronavirus.
“Rather than speaking in jargon, Mr Philp and his colleagues need to take urgent action and move the asylum seekers to safer, warmer and cleaner accommodation which any of us
would expect if we were in similar circumstances.”

Regards the outbreak in the Kent camp, Chris Philp said that he was “incredibly disappointed” to learn that the actions of some residents had contributed to the outbreak.

He said: “A number of individuals refused tests and have been either refusing to self-isolate or follow social distancing rules, despite repeated requests to do so and these being national guidelines to protect the NHS and save lives.

“These individuals could face enforcement action and are not only risking their own health but the health of staff looking after them and the communities who are accommodating them.”

ITV News has reported Mr Philp’s response has caused anger among some of the asylum seekers within the barracks who say that they should not be blamed.

An Iranian asylum seeker who did not want to be named said he was “furious”, adding: “It’s 100% not our fault. Do they not think it has something to do with putting us all in one place? Putting 400 people in one place is a major risk!”

The Penally camp may be here for sometime to come an MOD notice suggests.

The notice reads: “There will be no firing at Penally Gallery Ranges until November 2021. The Ministry of Defence has ceased all firing activity at Penally Gallery for 12 months in agreement with a Home Office request.

“This is due to the range’s close proximity to the Home Office Camp, Penally Training Camp. The Home Office has raised their concern that, given some of the intended occupants of the camp will have fled war zones, housing them within earshot of a range would be potentially traumatic for those individuals.

“The range could still be used if there is an urgent operational requirement. A new firing notice will be published before any firing takes place on the range.”

 

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Pembrokeshire man’s shell collection and imitation firearm could lead to prison

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A SAUNDERSFOOT man will face a trial at Swansea Crown Court after pleading not guilty to charges of fraudulently evading duty on turtle shells, pink Queen Conch shells and mixed coral.

Fifty-eight-year-old Jonathon Blair appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (Jan 19) to face five charges.

The court heard how Blair, who gave his new address as Lleust Y Bryn, Carmarthen, was found in possession of Fito defence spray, a realistic imitation firearm plus a quantity of turtle, Queen
Conch shells and mixed coral.

Blair pleaded not guilty to three charges of fraudulently evading duty, however a guilty plea was indicated on the charge of possession of Fito Defence Spray and the imitation firearm.

Customs and Excise boarded Blair’s boat in Pembrokeshire on June 15 of last year, where they searched and found the prohibited items, the court heard.

Prosecuting, Ann Griffiths asked the court to consider sending the case to Crown court due to the serious nature of the offences.

During mitigation, defence counsel James Harris asked magistrates to accept jurisdiction on the basis that the items were found ‘beachcombing’ and were kept on display on the boat and not brought illegally through markets.

Magistrates declined jurisdiction of the case due to the volume of shells involved.

The case is expected to be heard at Swansea Crown Court on February 19.

Blair was released on bail with the condition that he must live and sleep at the address given to the court and must surrender his passport.

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