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Conservatives attack Mark Drakeford for saying delivering vaccine ‘a marathon, not a sprint’

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THE CONSERVATIVES’ Shadow Health Minister, Andrew RT Davies, fiercely criticised Mark Drakeford after the First Minister’s appearance on Radio Four’s Today programme.

The Conservatives have spent the last week ramping up the rhetoric over the Welsh Government’s alleged failings in Wales’ coronavirus vaccination programme.

On Friday (Jan 15), Mr Drakeford defended the Welsh Government’s track record.

The First Minister said that Wales had been provided with six weeks’ supply of the Pfizer vaccine.

It made more sense, he claimed, to administer the vaccine over six weeks to ensure vaccinations were delivered consistently.

It made no sense, Mr Drakeford continued, for all Pfizer vaccines to be used in a shorter period, leaving Wales without stocks.

Mark Drakeford said delivering the vaccine was ‘a marathon, not a sprint’.

On Monday morning (Jan 18), Mr Drakeford appeared on Radio Four’s flagship Today programme. He was asked about the Welsh Government’s vaccination programme.

The First Minister said: “The most important issue is that we are on track to deliver vaccination to all the top four priority groups by the middle of February.”

Mr Drakeford said Wales would meet that target.

“The thing that limits us at the moment is supply. We are using every bit of vaccine that we are getting. We know that the supply will be ramping up over the coming weeks. We are ready to use all the supply of vaccine that we will get in Wales, and on track to deliver to the top four priority groups.”

He said Wales was using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as supplies were received.

However, he explained that the Welsh Government kept back thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine because its supply had to last until the beginning of February.

“We won’t get another delivery of that until the end of January, probably the beginning of February,” he said.

“We have to use that over those six weeks. It would be very damaging to try and use all of that in the first week, and then to have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do for another month.”

He was asked why Wales’ vaccination programme didn’t deliver the Pfizer vaccine to more people.

He replied: “The system we would have would not be in a position to then go on doing the job we need it to do over the weeks ahead.

“The sensible thing to do is to use the vaccine you have got, over the period you have got it for, so that your system can absorb it, and can go on working. We will use all the vaccine we have, in the time that we have it. As more comes on track, we will use that as well.”

Andrew RT Davies claimed the Welsh vaccination programme was ‘not fit for purpose’ and condemned Mr Drakeford for his ‘outburst of honesty’.

He could scarcely have been surprised by what Mr Drakeford said about the Welsh Government’s strategy. It was published last week and confirmed by the First Minister on Friday.

Had Mr Davies attended regular health briefings, as his predecessor Angela Burns did, his shock and outrage might have been diminished.

Andrew RT Davies continued in his familiar and similarly restrained style by claiming: “His shocking doubling-down on his decision to delay deployment of Pfizer vaccine supplies is dangerous, and makes no clinical sense whatsoever.

“We need to get these vaccinations into people’s arms ASAP.”

The Pfizer vaccine cannot be distributed through GP surgeries because it needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees centigrade.

Once a batch is opened, it must be quickly given. If it is not administered quickly, the vaccine is unusable.

The Welsh Government receives its stocks of vaccine from the UK Government. The UK Government distributes the vaccine based on population and not on need.

A quarter of the stocks of the much-easier to store and transport Oxford vaccine due to come to Wales have been delayed. 26,000 doses of the Oxford vaccine due to be sent to Wales
failed a quality test.

The Oxford vaccine can be stored safely in standard drug fridges and administered by GP surgeries.

Last week, Robert Street GP Surgery in Milford Haven said the delay in the Oxford vaccine’s delivery lay behind delays in its patients getting inoculated.

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Rider of a motorbike taken to hospital following collision with a car

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A COLLISION which involved a car and a motorbike on Friday afternoon (Jun 18) saw one person being transferred to hospital.

Dyfed-Powys Police have confirmed that the collision, which happened at approximately 1.17pm at Dwrbach, Scleddau, involved a white Seat Ibiza and a black Suzuki motorbike.

The Herald understands that the accident happened at a junction near The Gate Inn public house.

The incident caused the road to be closed while emergency services dealt with the situation.

The rider of the motorbike was transferred to Glangwili Hospital for treatment.

A Police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police attended a two vehicle road traffic collision which occurred in Scleddau, Fishguard early Friday afternoon, June18th 2021.

“The collision involved a white Seat Ibiza and a black Suzuki motorbike. The rider of the motorbike was taken to hospital.

“The road was closed for emergency services to deal with the collision.”

A rapid response vehicle and an ambulance were dispatched to the scene.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called to attend a road traffic collision involving a motorcycle at Dwrbach, Fishguard at 1.17pm on Friday 18 June. We sent one rapid response vehicle and one emergency ambulance. One patient was taken to Glangwili Hospital for further treatment.”

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Residents urged to be alert to Covid-19 symptoms following cluster of cases

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PUBLIC HEALTH WALES, Pembrokeshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board are urging members of the public to be alert to COVID-19 symptoms following the identification of a cluster of cases in the Tenby area.

The 22 confirmed cases are linked to social and sporting events and local schools and have generated a large number of contactssince the first cases were confirmed on Saturday, 12 June. 

A number of individuals, including pupils, are currently isolating and close contacts of the positive cases continue to be traced.

From Monday 21 June to Sunday 4 July, a mobile testing unit will be available for local residents in and around Tenby to access if they have symptoms.

This is based at Salterns Car Park, Marsh Road, Tenby, SA70 8DU.  To book a test visit the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or ring 119.

Residents can protect themselves and others from Coronavirus by remaining at least two metres away from everyone else, washing their hands regularly, and by wearing a face covering where required. 

The virus disperses in a well ventilated environment, so opening windows and allowing fresh air to circulate is another way to keep ourselves safe.

Residents should take up the vaccine when offered, and self-isolate and get a test if they or anyone in their household develop symptoms.

As well as the three most common symptoms of Coronavirus – a fever, a new continuous cough, or a loss/change of taste and smell – people with any of the following, wider symptoms that are persistent and/or unusual for them are also strongly encouraged to get a PCR test:

  • Mild summer cold symptoms – including sore throat, runny nose, headache
  • Flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Generally feeling unwell and a history of being in contact with a known COVID-19 case
  • Any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test

If you have any of the above symptoms, even if you have been vaccinated, please stay home and book a PCR test through the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or ringing 119.

When booking your PCR test, you will also be asked about your symptoms: if you have wider summer cold or flu-like symptoms as described above, rather than the classic three symptoms, choose ‘None of these symptoms’ and then choose one of the following options to enable you to complete the booking:

• My local council or health protection team has asked me to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms or

• A GP or other healthcare professional has asked me to get a test.

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Paul Davies submits views to Health Board Consultation

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Senedd Member Paul Davies has fed his views into Hywel Dda University Health Board’s consultation, “Building a Healthier Future after Covid-19.”

In response to the Health Board’s proposals, Mr Davies has made it clear that he opposes any movements to centralise or downgrade services at Withybush hospital.

Mr Davies said, “I cannot emphasise how important this consultation is and so I’d urge everyone across Pembrokeshire to read through the Health Board’s proposals and make their views known. In my submission, I’ve made it crystal clear that the people of Pembrokeshire should not have to travel further for vital health services.

“I want to see Hywel Dda start prioritising Pembrokeshire by investing in services at Withybush hospital so that it can support people living and working across the county.

“There’s still time to feed into the consultation and have your say on the Health Board’s plans. The deadline is Monday, June 21 and you can find more information here – https://www.haveyoursay.hduhb.wales.nhs.uk/building-a-healthier-future-after-covid-19.” 

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