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How Pembrokeshire’s test trace protect teams are keeping us safe

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AS VACCINES roll-out, test trace protect teams continue vital work to keep us safe.

WHILE vaccinations are the great hope for a path out of the coronavirus pandemic, the role of the Test Trace Protect team remains as important as ever.

The dedicated Pembrokeshire County Council Contact Tracing team have been at the forefront of the battle to stop the chain of infection since early in the outbreak.

From a small number of positive cases in the early days following March 2020 to several hundred cases per week at the peaks, the team has steadfastly taken on the challenge.

But unless you have direct contact with the team you may not be sure exactly how contact tracing works and how it helps to keep us all safe.

Kate Canny from Hubberston and Nicola Williams from Fishguard are Lead Tracers within the Test Trace Protect (TTP) Team at the Council.

Both moved from their roles within the Council Contact Centre to TTP to provide support during the pandemic.

From taking Contact Centre calls helping customers with queries on Council services, Kate and Nicola are now part of the TTP team that makes the calls to people who have returned a positive Covid-19 test and speak to those people they have been in close contact with.

Track and Trace operates 8am-8pm, seven days a week with staff split across shift patterns.

The TTP team use the NHS all Wales Contact Tracing database which receives details of positive Covid-19 cases throughout the day and night.

The team contact the person involved and ask them to confirm their name, address and date of birth and the date of the test to check they’re speaking to the person who’s had the test. Supporting those who have tested positive is an important part of the job.

“More often than not the person who has tested positive will know their result before we call them but sometimes they don’t,” Nicola said.

“These can be difficult calls because the person can be extremely upset or even angry and my role is to offer re-assurance to them and answer any questions that they may have.”

Support and advice is part of every conversation.

The app has become vistal throughout the pandemic.

Kate said: “If the case has one of the three main symptoms, a cough, high temperature or loss/change to their taste or sense of smell we use this information, but if they are asymptomatic we use the date they took the test to calculate their required isolation period.

“Once we have completed a symptom check, we will then trace back 48 hours previous to the test or symptoms, this is because you can carry the virus with no symptoms during this time.

“We discuss any locations they’ve visited such as shops, cafes, if they’ve travelled or been on holiday. We talk to them about their family, household, friends and work place contacts over this time. This is where we create a timeline record to try to prevent the spread of the virus any further”.

Every detail is important, Nicola added. “What might seem like an unimportant piece of information to you could be the missing piece of the jigsaw to me”.

A report is added to the cases record in the TTP system. The Test Trace Protect process is governed by data protection and all records are held in the strictest of confidence. The team cannot share information about the positive case without the individuals’ consent.

Kate said: “We advise cases to isolate for 10 days, we go through hygiene and isolation advice. We can also signpost the case or contacts to support services in relation to for example shopping, receiving prescriptions, financial support and NHS guidance to help them whilst they are isolating”.

Self-isolation means staying at home, not having visitors, not going out even for shopping and if you are positive limiting contact with others in your household.

It’s a difficult time for people so it’s important to check how they will manage and provide details of services that can help them with their day to day tasks.

Kate said: “Once we have collected the contact details for people they have been in close contact with, we then pass this onto our team of Advisors. The Advisors will then contact anyone that may now be at risk. The Advisors provide them with advice regarding the need to self-isolate and talk through any support they may need to do this.

“Understandably people are worried for their family, friends and their own health. They worry that they may have spread the virus further. People are also lonely isolating, so we try and reassure people the best way we can.”

Receiving a call to isolate can also be a shock for some people.

“People don’t always believe us when they say they have been in contact with someone with Covid as we are unable to give any information about the contact,” said Kate.

“On occasion, but rarely, people refuse to isolate but we just express the importance of self-isolating and advise it is now law and they may be subject to enforcement action or fines. The vast majority understand why they need to self-isolate and are prepared to do so to keep themselves and others safe.”

Nicola added: “Understandably, some people think we are scam callers or refuse to answer or can be rude and abusive.

“But it’s so important that if you have a call from 02921961133 you answer it. It’s important to know that we will never ask for your bank details or for any type of payment.”

The TTP team has also been hugely impressed with the way Pembrokeshire residents have pulled together to support one another over the past 11 months.

Nicola said: “The strength of community that still exists in Pembrokeshire is a wonderful thing to see. Neighbours helping neighbours, communities pulling together to help wherever and whenever they can.

“Pembrokeshire is a rural county and has a lot of isolated villages but still, residents have risen to the challenge and continue to do so.”

Kate agreed: “As a team it has come to our attention how fantastic and caring neighbours, friends and family have been when they need to support someone when they are isolating.

“Everyone has been pulling together in our communities to ensure that the person isolating is cared for and has what they need in a safe manner.”

Thanks to people following the stay at home message and self-isolation rules, we are now seeing numbers of positive cases start to fall.

But it remains vital that you get tested if you have coronavirus symptoms.

Nicola added: “By working together we can help control the spread of Covid-19”.

“Getting tested and following self-isolation rules are by far the best way to help protect our loved ones and communities even though it may seem to be an inconvenience at the time.”

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a test.

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Milford Haven-bound ‘flying oil tanker’ hits the national news

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A MILFORD HAVEN bound oil tanker has made the national news, after a photograph taken off the Cornish coast made it look like the ship was flying.

An optical illusion caused the ship to appear as though it was floating above the horizon

The ship is believed to be the Hafnia Malacca Oil/Chemical Tanker which is heading to Pembrokeshire from Primorsk, Russia via the English Channel.

David Morris, from the hamlet of Gillan, near Falmouth took a photo of the ship near Falmouth, Cornwall, the BBC have reported.

On the BBC news website, meteorologist David Braine said the “superior mirage” occurred because of “special atmospheric conditions that bend light”.

He said the illusion is common in the Arctic, but can appear “very rarely” in the UK during winter.

Mr Morris said he was “stunned” after capturing the picture while looking out to sea from the hamlet of Gillan

Mr Braine said: “Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it.

“Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears.

“Superior mirages can produce a few different types of images – here a distant ship appears to float high above its actual position, but sometimes an object below the horizon can become visible.”

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Pembrokeshire residents can quickly check symptoms for variety of conditions on NHS 111 Wales online

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NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker can save Pembrokeshire patients time by helping them find the right NHS service for treatment. Symptoms can be quickly checked for a variety of conditions and advice given on the best way to treat them by visiting www.111.wales.nhs.uk which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The way we access NHS services has changed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more options now becoming increasingly utilised, including the NHS 111 Wales online service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be used for both health information and advice and to access urgent primary care in Welsh and English.

In a recent YouGov survey, a third of Pembrokeshire residents had not even heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker and only 19% had used it during the past 12 months.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way you access NHS services. The methods available have changed but we are still here for you. It is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker with your first port of call being NHS 111 Wales.”

According to the YouGov survey, carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign, only 67% of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker. However, 86% said they felt it was important to have access to the service.   

NHS 111 Wales online can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. The way it works is: You answer questions about your symptoms on the website and depending on the situation you will:

  •           Get self-care advice
  •           Be told how to get any medicine you need
  •           Find out what local service can help you
  •           Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  •           Get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  •           Be given an arrival time if you need to go to A&E – this might mean you spend less time in A&E

For those who don’t have confidence going online to seek advice, there is the NHS 111 Wales phone service. This is also a free service where patients can contact the NHS by dialling 111 to receive advice on the best way to manage their issue or gain further assistance if needed. The bilingual telephone service is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Eighty-four percent of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales phone service when asked for the recent YouGov survey but only 20% had used the telephone service during the last 12 months.

 

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Trial date for son accused of killing mum

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THE SON of Judith Rhead, 68, who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Feb 20 will now appear in Crown Court again in October.

Dale Morgan, 43, said to be a scout master, appeared in court only to confirm his name, date of birth and address – which was listed as Honeyborough Green, Neyland.

A plea and trial preparation hearing date was set for March 26 with a provisional trial date set for October 4.

He was remanded in custody.

In court papers it stated that the alleged murder took place between December 10, 2020 and February 21, 2021.

The paperwork demonstrates that the police are unsure of the exact date that Ms Rhead died. The large date range, two months, points to the likelihood that this will be a challenging case for all those involved.

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