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Two schemes to help people self-isolate to be introduced in Wales

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PEOPLE told to self-isolate for up to 14 days will be eligible for financial support from the Welsh Government as two new schemes are unveiled on Friday (Oct 30).

People on low incomes can apply to receive a £500 payment if they have tested positive for coronavirus or they are asked to self-isolate by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

And a new top-up payment is being introduced for the social care workforce in Wales, to increase statutory sick pay to their normal wages if they have to take time off because they have coronavirus or are self-isolating.

Up to £32m is being made available by the Welsh Government for the two schemes to support people and remove the financial barriers faced by people needing to self-isolate.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford said:

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone and we have asked people to sacrifice so much this year, including during this latest firebreak. We are committed to doing everything we can to support people and protect people’s health and wellbeing.

“Asking people to self-isolate is an important way to break the transmission of the virus but for many people it can mean the loss of income.

“We all have a responsibility to protect our own health and our loved ones’ too but we know just how difficult that can be when faced with a choice between staying at home and not being able being able to feed your family or going to work.

“These new support schemes are targeted towards people on low incomes and are designed to relieve some of the financial pressures people face if they are asked to self-isolate.”

A £500 fixed payment will be available to people who are asked to self-isolate because they have tested positive for coronavirus or because they have been identified as a close contact by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service.

The payment is available to people on a low income who are unable to work from home and would lose income as a result of self-isolating. To be eligible, people must be self-isolating and in receipt of Universal Credit or another specified benefit.

The final arrangements are being made for the scheme to go live. People will be able to apply for the payments via their local authority website and they will be backdated to October 23.

The Statutory Sick Pay Enhancement scheme for social care staff working in care homes, domiciliary care and as personal assistants will start on 1 November and will run until 31 March 2021.

The scheme will top up statutory sick pay to eligible care workers’ full pay if they need to take time off with suspected or confirmed coronavirus or if they are self-isolating because someone in their household has coronavirus or they have been told to by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service.

Julie James, Minister for Housing and Local Government said: “If you are told to self-isolate, working from home is not an option for everyone, making this an even more stressful period for people. Some people can feel under pressure to go to work, just to pay the bills.

“The £500 self-isolation payment and the SSP enhancement scheme will help us protect the vulnerable and give people the financial security they need to stay-at-home and break the cycle of transmission.

“There will be some people who do not meet the criteria for the £500 payment but who will suffer financial hardship as a result of being asked to self-isolate. This is why we have introduced a discretionary element to the self-isolation payment, which will be available to a wider group of people.

“Financial support is already available to people through the Emergency Assistance Payment coronavirus hardship element of the Discretionary Assistance Fund.”

Alongside the two schemes, the Welsh Government intends to strengthen coronavirus regulations by imposing a legal requirement for people to self-isolate if told to do so by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service.

The regulations will also be strengthened to make it an offence to knowingly provide false information to the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect service.

And a duty will be introduced to ensure employers cannot prevent an employee from following NHS Wales Test Trace Protect advice to self-isolate.

These two schemes will form an important part of the national support and measures which will be introduced after the firebreak.

The First Minister will today start to set out what will happen when the firebreak ends on November 9 at the Welsh Government press briefing, which is held at 12.15pm.

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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Health

Pembrokeshire residents urged to take a virtual GP consultation when offered

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PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being urged to take up the offer of a virtual consultation, over the phone or video call with their GP, to help Keep Wales Safe during the current lockdown ‘stay at home’ restrictions.

The way we access local NHS services is changing, with more ways in which you can consult your doctor or nurse. Most surgeries now offer telephone as well as electronic advice consultations in the first instance. Following your advice call, a face to face appointment may be organised, but video consultations are also available. You can now speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer and a connection to the internet. This is often more convenient and can save you time, as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. The system used is confidential and secure.

In a recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign only 27% of residents in Mid and West Wales had made use of the GP virtual service over the past 12 months with just 57% having heard of the service. However, 88% believed it was important to have access to a remote GP consultation once they had learnt of its existence.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded. If you require support please contact your GP surgery using the number provided in the appointment confirmation.”

She continued: “By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us to help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”

After being offered a video consultation you will be sent a letter, email or text with details of your appointment. This communication will contain details of the service that has requested to see you by video and have provided a web address link. You can type or copy the web address link into a web browser via an internet enabled device and this will take you to the video clinic waiting area.

  • In order to access your virtual appointment, you will need:
  • Access to a device that will allow you to access the internet. You should use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser on a desktop or laptop, or on an Android tablet or smartphone or Safari web browser on an Apple iMac, MacBook, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Your device will need a webcam (camera), speakers and microphone.
  • A good internet connection (if you can watch a YouTube video, this is good indication that you have a good connection).
  • An internet usage plan that is sufficient to cover the data consumption of a video call – ideally use a Wi-Fi connection if you have this available.

Sixty two percent of those surveyed by YouGov in Mid and West Wales said they will continue to access NHS services using the new ways that have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. The new methods include making more use of pharmacists; virtual GP consultations and using the NHS 111 online and telephone services.

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‘Cautious optimism’ for county’s tourism sector – but clarity still needed

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‘GIVE us clarity’ is the overriding message from the County’s tourism and hospitality businesses as the sector looks forward with cautious optimism to another busy season.

In a meeting hosted by Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, thirty key local businesses were able to share their views with Paul Davies MS, Pembrokeshire County Council, the National Park and Visit Pembrokeshire.

The meeting focussed on the need for business support measures so long as uncertainty remains over the timetable for re-opening the economy in Wales.

Stephen Crabb said: “There is a lot of belief around that this summer will see another ‘staycation’ boom so long as the vaccination programme continues to make good progress and infection rates fall. Pembrokeshire has had a lot of national media coverage in recent months and could experience a bumper season but it’s crucial we get the re-opening right. There is a clear need for some kind of timetable to help businesses prepare appropriately and for clear rules to avoid confusion and contradictory messages.”

Paul Davies said: “It was a pleasure to hear from tourism businesses across Pembrokeshire about some of the challenges that they’re currently facing. The message was pretty clear – they want clarity from the Welsh Government and some timescales by which they can start to plan for reopening. I’ll certainly be taking back the concerns highlighted during the meeting and raising them with Welsh Government Ministers at the Senedd.”

Emma Thornton from Visit Pembrokeshire added: “Great to attend the Hospitality and Tourism Round table event today and to have the opportunity to discuss the ongoing challenges our industry faces over the coming months but also to share a collective optimism for what we believe will be a really strong year for tourism in Pembrokeshire when we are able to reopen and welcome our visitors back.

“Visit Pembrokeshire as the new Destination Management (DMO) for Pembrokeshire will be working closely with local stakeholders and businesses to help realise this opportunity in a sustainable and responsible way mindful of protecting what makes our beautiful county so special”

Stephen Crabb: Wants clarity for tourism businesses

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