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Llanelli restrictions ‘helping control’ high Covid-19 cases

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THE PEOPLE of Llanelli are helping to control the rate of Covid-19 infections in the area, but more needs to be done before restrictions can be lifted.

Positive cases in the ‘health protection zone’ are still three times higher than other parts of the county, but the actions of residents appear to be making a difference.

When the new local restrictions were brought in two weeks ago (Friday, September 25, 2020), the rate of infection within the designated ‘health protected zone’ was 152 per 100,000 of the population.

Although the case rate has gone up and down over the last fortnight, the most recent data shows the rate of infection is now 99.9 per 100,000 people*.

The rate for the rest of the county, excluding Llanelli’s health protection zone, stands at 33.9 per 100,000.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of the Council, said it shows that people are listening to the advice and helping protect each other.

Carmarthenshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board, working alongside Welsh Government and Public Health Wales, said that whilst the signs are encouraging, the restrictions for the Llanelli area need to remain in place for at least another week to ensure the spread of infection can continue to be controlled.

The situation will be reviewed weekly, with figures and decisions announced every Friday afternoon.

The rest of Carmarthenshire continues to be monitored and all residents are being asked to continue following the national guidelines to ensure the whole county stays out of ‘lockdown’.

The overall rate of infection for the whole of Carmarthenshire has now risen to 53.5 per 100,000 population.

“We’ve been monitoring the cases across the county very closely – particularly in the health protection zone – and whilst we’re relieved to see things are heading in the right direction in Llanelli, we need to be vigilant across the whole of Carmarthenshire as we are seeing cases appearing across the county,” said Cllr Dole.

“We are grateful to the people of Llanelli for everything they are doing to help keep Covid-19 cases under control. Over the last fortnight, the rate of infections has steadily gone down, and this is really pleasing. It doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet but we’re hopeful that the extra measures being taken by people living in the health protection zone will continue to make a big difference.

“We absolutely appreciate the impact these extra measures are having on people’s lives, families and businesses. That is why we are reviewing the situation weekly.

“If the rate of infection continues to fall, we may be able to lift these extra measures placed on the people of Llanelli. If they don’t, or if cases continue to rise in other parts of the county, we may have to make decisions that affect more people.

“For now, I want to say thank you. Thank you for making a difference – please continue to protect each other and bear with these extra measures for a little while longer.”

Social distancing and behaviours at licensed premises continues to be an area of concern.

Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing has shown that transmission of Covid-19 appears to be largely between people of working age, with most clusters traced back to known premises.

In the last two weeks, the council’s enforcement team, supported by Dyfed-Powys Police, have proactively visited more than 200 business premises across Carmarthenshire to offer advice and support, and take enforcement action where necessary.

On the whole, most premises are operating safely and following guidelines well, but 10 premises have been served with closure notices following unsatisfactory inspections – some have since re-opened following significant improvements.

Household ‘clusters’ are also becoming apparent, which means the virus is being passed between people of other age groups who are living together.

Everyone is being urged to continue social distancing, washing hands, wearing a face covering indoors – and also outdoors where they can’t keep two metres apart – self-isolating and getting a test if they experience Covid-19 symptoms including a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of taste and smell.

Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda University Health Board Ros Jervis said: “To protect our own health and that of both our loved ones and wider communities – from the fit and healthy to more vulnerable people – we must all play our part. Please continue to social distance and use other ways of connecting with people, as this is so important for our mental well-being. Wash hands regularly and wear a face covering indoors, and outdoors if you cannot keep two meters apart. Stay at home if you have any symptoms and book a test. There should be no need for you to travel excessively to book a test as we have good testing capacity across Carmarthenshire. And please, if you receive a call from a contact tracer be honest with them no matter what. They are not interested in enforcement but they are doing their job to protect your health and those around you. Being honest and doing what we can to protect each other is so important right now.”

If you have any of the Covid-19 symptoms, including a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of taste and smell, please stay at home and book a test the UK-wide website or dialling 119 between the hours of 7am and 11pm (people with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119).

Local commonly asked questions about testing and tracing can be found at hduhb.nhs.wales

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Milford Haven: Apocalyptic scenes as work truck catches fire in Meyler Crescent

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A MILFORD HAVEN businessman says that he is “absolutely gutted”, after he lost his tipper truck in a dramatic fire overnight.

Callum Hicks, of Meyler Crescent, was woken just after 1am on Monday morning (Mar 1) to see his vehicle in flames, with fuel running down the street on fire.

The apocalyptic scenes brought neighbours out of their homes and the fire brigade was quickly called and put out the blaze.

At this time the police and fire brigade are not suspecting foul play, but in a telephone call to a Herald reporter Callum Hicks said that he thought it was impossible that the vehicle would just spontaneously combust.

Work van: Callum Hicks with his truck, which he says was his “pride and joy”

Explaining that he thought his truck had been set on fire deliberately, he said: “There was CCTV of the fire, but its a football pitch length away, with a white van parked blocking the view of the camera. There was not a clear uninterrupted view.”

“I parked the truck at 2pm on Sunday afternoon so it was 11 hours before the fire started. The vehicle was therefore cold, and locked up.”

Firefighters at the scene

The Herald has asked two mechanics, one of whom has worked on Transit vans for decades. The first said: “It is very unlikely that a vehicle like this would catch fire on it’s own – its impossible – I am 99.9% sure that this was arson.”

The second, a specialist in vehicle electronics said: “There are so many fuses and fail safes its highly unlikely for diesel vans to burst into flames like this without some kind of catalyst.”

Burned out shell: The vehicle after the fire

“There have been issues regarding Transits in the past, even a product recall involving a fire risk from a towing module. But, the chances are a million to one of it catching fire after being parked up for almost twelve hours. It just doesn’t happen.”

The Herald asked Callum Hicks if he could think of anyone who may want to torch his truck. He said that he could not think of anyone who would do such a thing.

Commenting on the police handling of the matter, he said: “They told my missus, Rhianna Pearce, that they were not taking matters further because it was just an accident – its not!”

“I have been in trouble with the police before, and they know I am a bit of a boy, but I think this is the reason that the police are not looking into this properly.

“At the end of the day this was a large fire in a residential area, lives could have been in danger. I have lost thousands because I was insured third-party only and I do not have cover for fire.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been asked for a comment.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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