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Covid cases at highest locally since January



R-rate as high as before the last lockdown

Positive tests rise

Vaccination programme reduces hospitalisations

THE LOCAL rate of community transmission of Covid-19 is now as high as it was when Wales entered lockdown in January this year

The Herald investigated a suggestion that the number of cases of confirmed Covid infections was increasing, and businesses were caught between a general shortage of staff and a rising number of staff absences caused by Covid-19.


Data shared with The Herald by Hywel Dda UHB shows that the R-rate, used as an indicator for Covid-19’s spread, is now 1.44.

That means that every person infected with Covid transmits the virus to more than 1 person.

Earlier this year, before lockdown eased, the R-rate was around 0.8.

The rate is now headed towards an autumn and winter peak, the same as 2020.

In the last month, the number of positive tests for the killer virus in the Hywel Dda UHB area has significantly increased.

On August 25 alone, the Board recorded 264 confirmed new cases.

In each of the last three weeks to August 25, the number of confirmed new cases has risen.

That fits the national picture, which shows cases rising at a much sharper rate now than they did at the beginning of the second wave in October last year.

However, and importantly, the rates for hospitalisation for those infected with Covid have fallen.

That suggests that the Welsh Government’s vaccination programme has loosened the link between Covid infection and the type of serious sickness that needs hospital treatment as a result.

Although the Welsh Government has extended its vaccination programme to include young people, take-up among that group remains relatively low.

Swayed by scare stories and the sort of pseudo-science peddled online, some in older age groups have either been deterred from taking the vaccine when it’s offered or refused it altogether.

Reaching those groups, potentially at greater risk than younger people, and addressing the gap in vaccine take-up among BAME individuals, remains a major challenge for the Welsh Government.

To take two data points four weeks apart, in the week to August 3, there were five Covid deaths in Wales.
In the week ending August 31, that number was 18.

Five new deaths were recorded on August 31 alone.

The drivers for those increases are undoubtedly this summer’s relaxation of restrictions on social distancing, the opening of nightclubs and bars, and a significant drop in the number of people wearing masks or taking the same precautions as they did before Wales moved to Level Zero.

Those factors, combined with the greater infectiousness of Covid’s Delta variant, mean that Wales heads into the autumn – and the flu season – with more sick people and a greater likelihood of abnormal seasonal strains on NHS services.


As schools and further education colleges return from the summer holiday and universities return later in September, the number of young people mixing together will inevitably rise.It follows that the increased number of contacts increases the possibility of infection with Covid-19.Headteachers have criticised new guidance from the WelshGovernment for schools as being both too late in the day and contradictory.

Laura Doel, director of school leaders’ union, NAHT Cymru, said: “We welcome the fact that schools have until 20 September to transition to the new framework.
“However, there are elements of the framework that are contradictory and likely to lead to confusion.
“The framework states that Wales is at low risk, yet the Welsh Government instructed schools to continue with lateral flow testing on secondary pupils and all school staff. According to today’s framework, that is a practice for when we are at high risk.
“The advice refers to rising hospital admissions and the seven-day rolling incidence of infection, which appears to put us in the moderate risk category.
“Added to this, there is a lack of differentiation between the measures to take, depending on the risk level. When we are talking risk, when we are planning for what we want to be a sustainable return, we must be absolutely clear of the risk level.”

In the three-weekly Covid update delivered last week, Mark Drakeford said: “Coronavirus has not gone away. While we are able to remain at Alert Level Zero, we must not abandon all the simple measures which have done so much to keep us all safe.”

When questioned, the First Minister refused to rule out reimposing restrictions if the situation deteriorated.

Russell George, the Shadow Health Minister, responded to that prospect: “Talk of reimposing restrictions is completely unnecessary at this stage.
“Moving forward we need to ensure all public health decisions in Wales are taken on the best possible data, with a focus on hospitalisation figures and a clear breakdown of those who are admitted due to COVID or other illnesses, and also those who acquire it in a hospital setting.”

In July, an S4C investigation revealed a quarter of all deaths from Covid-19 in Wales arose from hospital transmission.


Both the UK and Welsh Governments are determined to avoid any further lockdown or reimposition of restrictions now relaxed.

Much, however, depends on how long vaccination programmes, including booster shots and an extended flu vaccination programme in Wales, can keep a lid on the number of hospitalisations and whether a new and more infectious strain arises.

The issue is especially acute in the UK, which has fewer Intensive Care Beds per head of population and fewer Intensive

Care specialists than any other Western European nation.

At the start of the pandemic, Wales’s ICU bed capacity was 153.

That is 4.9 for every 100,000 of our population.

In Croatia, a country of approximately the same population and around the same size of Wales, the number of ICU beds was 14.7 for every 100,000 of population.

Any further pressure on Wales’s sensitive NHS capacity will have an inevitable knock-on effect on the availability and promptness of diagnoses and treatments for chronic conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

The picture is further complicated by a yawning gap between the demand for social care staff and the number of applicants for job vacancies.

Those pressures, combined with the economic costs of lockdown, act as an effective brake on governments’ range of actions.

And that’s setting aside the inevitable political fallout of new restrictions’ imposition, especially in Westminster.


Covid-19 cases highest in Tenby; lots of new cases in Neyland and Pembroke Dock



THE NUMBER of Covid-19 infections still taking place in Pembrokeshire is still significant, with the latest figues broken down per town now released.

Tenby has the highest prevalence in the general population at the present time.

The figures show that Pembroke Dock and Neyland have reported the most new cases with 59 and 60 new cases each.

This is the coronavirus rate and number of new cases for every area across Pembrokeshire are as follows:

  • St Davids & Letterston: 30 new cases; a rate of 394.6 per 100,000 people.
  • Johnston, Broad Haven & St Ishmaels: 39 new cases; a rate of 466.6 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Milford Haven West: 49 new cases; a rate of 641.4 per 100,000 people.
  • Milford Haven East: 37 new cases; a rate of 495.4 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Pembroke West & Castlemartin: 34 new cases; 459.8 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Pembroke East & Manorbier: 25 new cases; a rate of 324.8 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Pembroke Dock: 59 new cases; a rate of 610.5 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Neyland: 60 new cases; a rate of 690.4 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Haverfordwest South: 52 new cases; a rate of 727.2 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Haverfordwest North: 47 new cases; a rate of 661.0 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Crundale, Clynderwen & Maenclochog: 64 new cases; a rate of 888.3 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Fishguard: 39 new cases; a rate of 393.6 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Cilgerran & Crymych: 30 new cases; a rate of 353.2 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Narberth: 29 new cases; a rate of 422.0 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Saundersfoot: 29 new cases; a rate of 341.4 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Tenby & Caldey: 40 new cases; a rate of 658.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Cllr Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council said on Friday: “I must repeat that Covid-19 has not gone away and the wave of positive cases sweeping across Europe is a concern.
“People continue to catch this awful virus every day. Unfortunately, people are still dying from Covid-19.
“It is human nature to want to forget about Covid as the festive season approaches, I totally understand that.
“Like everyone, I was so disappointed when the tighter restrictions had to be brought in just before Christmas last year.
“And like everyone I’m thinking about buying gifts, planning festive events and looking forward to the celebrations.
“But I would please ask that you also keep in mind the simple things we can all do to give ourselves the best protection against Covid-19 and slow down the spread.”

Council Covid-19 team in Tenby earlier this year (Pic PCC)

Cllr Simpson said that People in Pembrokeshire should continue to work from home where you can, take up vaccination including the booster when offered, keep your distance where possible, use face coverings where required, maintain hand hygiene, meet outdoors when the weather allows and let fresh air in if you are meeting indoors.

He said that Christmas parties is one particular area where I would ask people to take extra care.

Cllr Simpson said: “Please consider smaller group numbers than you might ordinarily and try to avoid mixing with too many other people.”

“Remember that Covid-19 loves busy indoor spaces.

“Please do what you can to protect yourself and others.

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Appeal following public order incident in Monkton last month



POLICE in south Pembrokeshire are appealing for witnesses or anybody with information after a ‘public order incident’ occurred in in Monkton last month.

The incident occurred on Long Mains between 9.30pm and 10pm on the evening of Thursday, October 21.

Dyfed-Powys Police said: “Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

“Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting”

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Hospital visiting restrictions relaxed in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokehire



FAMILY and friends can now attend hospitals in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire to visit patients on a limited basis with prior agreement with hospital staff in line with Welsh Government guidance.

While the prevalence of COVID-19 has reduced within our hospitals and in the community, the virus has not gone away. Like some other areas across Wales and the UK we are continuing to deal with cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections in our hospitals. As a result, visiting arrangements to all hospitals in Hywel Dda UHB are being reviewed regularly and remain subject to change at short notice.

With effect from Monday 29 November, all visits must be pre-arranged with the ward sister or charge nurse to enable us to maintain social distancing in our wards and across our sites. This means that a pre-booked visit for one person daily can be supported, provided your visit has a clear purpose and is in the best interest of the patient, in line with the following guidance:

‘Visiting with a purpose’:

  • End of life – last days of life
  • Carer – you are the carer or the nominated representative
  • Parent/Guardian – children and young people can be supported in an inpatient environment by the identified parent/guardian
  • Learning disabilities (LD) – a patient with learning disabilities may need you as their carer/next of kin to share information about their individual needs and virtual visiting may not be appropriate
  • Dementia – to support a person with Dementia as part of the ongoing support/plan of care
  • Other – for example where it is felt a visit from you may help the patient with rehabilitation, understanding of care/condition, help with dietary concerns. The ward sister may agree visiting outside of this guidance in certain circumstances.

The current visiting arrangements within our maternity services remain unchanged at this time.

Please note that visitors who do not meet the criteria will be asked to use a virtual visiting option instead which is available within the hospital, such as using a tablet or mobile phone. Family Liaison Officers will be available on wards to support access to virtual visiting.

All visitors must carry out a lateral flow device (LFD) test at home and have a negative result from that test prior to travelling to the hospital. Lateral flow self-test kits can be obtained by:

It is recommended that test results – negative or positive – are recorded on the UK Government portal (

When visiting our hospitals please remember to wear a face covering, this will be replaced by a surgical face mask at reception or ward entrance. Please remember to maintain social distancing and to clean your hands on entering the building and as often as possible using soap and water or hand sanitiser.

Mandy Rayani, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, said: “On behalf of the health board I want to express our deepest gratitude to our patients, their families and our communities for their continued understanding and adherence to the very strict hospital visiting rules that we have had to impose throughout this pandemic. 

“We appreciate that it is a difficult time for everyone. We will continue to support the wellbeing of our patients/service users, their families and loved ones in the best way we can, while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

“Our patient support team and family liaison officers can help to deliver essential items to patients from their family and facilitate communication through digital options/telephone; if you need their assistance please call them on and 0300 0200 159 and they will do their best to help you.”

Please do not visit any of our hospital sites if you:

  1. are unwell, have flu like symptoms, currently have or had diarrhoea and vomiting in past 48 hours, have been in contact with anyone with the above symptoms in the last 48 hours have an existing medical condition or are on medication that puts you at risk of infection. Infection control advice – Hywel Dda University Health Board (
  2. have been asked to isolate by the contact tracing team or if you have any of the three main symptoms of COVID-19 – a new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change of taste or smell. If you experience any of these symptoms please book a COVID-19 PCR test via the UK portal or by ringing 119. You should also book a test if you have mild cold or flu-like symptoms, including runny or blocked nose, sore throat, muscle ache or pain, excessive tiredness; persistent headache, persistent sneezing and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing. When booking your PCR test, you will also be asked about your symptoms: if you have mild cold or flu-like symptoms, 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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