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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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‘Take your children directly to Glangwili’ advice as Withybush’s Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit closes

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HYWEL DDA Health Board has confirmed that as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush General Hospital has been converted into an Adult Urgent Care Assessment area.

The news means that parents of children with unknown urgent symptoms are asked to either contact their local GP, out of hours services via NHS 111, or take their child directly to Glangwili Hospital.

There will be no staff available to deal children with unknown urgent symptoms in children at Withybush Hospital.

The Health Board say that for children with emergency conditions, parents are still asked to dial 999.

But there has been concern as the number of ambulances serving the county of Pembrokeshire is mooted to be cut from 7 to 5.

The Health Board have released the following guidance on Monday (Sept 20): “To help keep you and your child safe at Glangwili Hospital, we have set up a new temporary Paediatric Assessment Area adjacent to the Emergency Department that will assess children in a separate facility to Adults. “This area is for children who attend from General Practitioners, Out of Hours, Welsh Ambulance and walk in admissions and will see children with illnesses.

“For injury, your child will be directed via minor injuries or Emergency Department.

The local ambulance service is under great pressure, with many crews spending long waits at the hospital (Pic Herald)

“Once an assessment has been made, if your child requires admission staff will explain that one parent can be resident on the ward, due to restrictions that we have imposed as part of our COVID-19 response.”

Mrs Paula Evans, Head of Nursing for Paediatrics and Neonates as said that: “We understand that families will be anxious at this time if their child becomes unwell or injured. COVID-19 is worrying but there may be other reasons why your child might be unwell and it is important not to delay in getting care and treatment.”

The Health Board added: “Your GP surgery can provide telephone triage and most have also introduced, or are in the process of introducing, an online consultation service called e-Consult.

“You can access this service by visiting your GP surgery’s website; follow the link to e-Consult then choose the ‘I want help for my child’ option.

“Our Health Visiting teams are also continuing to support families and new babies. If you are unable to reach your usual health visitor, please contact your local hub, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. Pembrokeshire residents should call 07766 992316.”

The Health Board are saying they are hoping to re-open the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush General Hospital in the Spring of 2022.

THIS STORY IS UPDATING, MORE TO FOLLOW

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Wins for Pennar, Carew and Monkton

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PENNAR Robins, Monkton Swifts and Carew all earned good wins on Saturday (Sept 18) in Division 1 of the Pembrokeshire League.

Pennar had beaten rivals Monkton Swifts the previous week and they followed that up with a thumping 12-0 win over Narberth.

Ross Jones opened the scoring two minutes in and he bagged a second inbetween goals from Sean Edmundson and Craig Asparassa.

Asparassa scored early in the second half to make it 5-0 before Jones claimed his hat trick.

Carl Rees got his name on the scoresheet, just seconds after coming on as a sub and he got his second and Pennar’s eighth with ten minutes to go.

Connor Roberts, Kieran Smith, Nick Willis and Ceri Griffiths all scored to seal an emphatic win.

MONKTON Swifts bounced back from their defeat to Pennar with a narrow 1-0 win away at Neyland.

Both sides had chances throughout the game but just as it looked the game would finish goalless, Monkton’s Jamie Wilkes scored in the 86th minute to seal the three points.

There was another close game between Carew and St Ishmaels but it was the Rooks who got the win.

The only goal of the game came in the second half as Zac Rowell set up Adam Muskett to score.

Action from Neyland’s game with Monkton
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Pembrokeshire dog sniffs out £10k of illicit tobacco in a single raid

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Cooper and Worcester Police. Image by West Mercia Police

AN OPERATION has successfully been carried out in Worcester, where an estimated £10,000 worth of counterfeit and illicit tobacco was seized

Cooper, from BWY Canine LTD in Clynderwen, assisted in seizing the tobacco from two premises in Worcester city centre. 

West Mercia Police carried out the operation on September 13 in partnership with Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards Team.

A spokesperson for BWY Canine Ltd, the leading specialists in detection dogs for the UK, said: “We were working on two operations.

“In Worcester, we found a substantial seizure from two shops, where a large quantity of the tobacco was hidden in freezers.

“Cooper located one of the most sophisticated illegal tobacco concealments that we have seen in the last 10 years.”

PC Susan Parr of West Mercia Police added: “Working with specially trained search dogs, seizures were made at two premises.

“There had previously been seizures of illegal tobacco there and significant intelligence reports and test purchases.”

Councillor Matt Dormer, cabinet member with responsibility for communities, added: “I am pleased to see this great example of Trading Standards Officers working with colleagues at West Mercia Police to tackle illegal activity in the county. Organised crime is at the heart of the trade in illicit tobacco and it can impact on our communities by reducing the takings of local honest businesses.

“The availability of cheap products also makes it much easier for young people to get hold of tobacco, creating a risk to their long term health. Our Trading Standards team will continue to work hard to remove illegal products and where necessary we will prosecute businesses and individuals that ignore the law.”

Officers took part in this joint operation as part of the force’s crack down on serious and organised crimes under West Mercia’s Protect campaign.

Recently, BWY Canine Ltd has been creating headlines across the county by working alongside law enforcement agencies.

Another canine, Yoyo, additionally assisted Warwickshire Police detect £17k of unlawful cigarettes stowed away in a sewer, at a raid on two Rugby shops.

Scamp also, working with West Midlands Police, helped sniff out a huge haul of cannabis in Walsall, with a street value of £200k.

Since 2012, Scamp alone has found over £10 million illegal tobacco products, and in 2019 he found over £1.6 million criminal cash.

Yoyo and Scamp additionally helped officers of Kent Police seize more than 35,000 illegal cigarettes from shops in Maidstone.

The award-winning family-run BWY Canine Ltd business has provided clients with professional search dog services since 2009.

The dogs are able to detect explosives, firearms, drugs, cash, tobacco, meat/products of animal origin, live bodies, human remains (cadaver), blood and semen (crime scene).

Their clients typically include police services, trading standards, private companies, NHS Trusts, Oil Refineries and the third largest Port Authority in the UK.

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