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Please protect yourself and others from Covid-19 this Christmas, says Council Leader

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THE LEADER of Pembrokeshire County Council has issued a detailed update regards the Covid-19 situation in Pembrokeshire.

Cllr David Simpson said that we had seen a reduction in positive cases over the last couple of weeks but, unfortunately, numbers have started to rise again.

As of today the positive rate locally was 551.6 per 100,000 people he confirmed.

CLLR DAVID SIMPSON (Pic PCC)

Cllr Simpson said: “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.”

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.

“I would also take this opportunity to remind everyone that the Welsh Government has now extended the use of the NHS Covid Pass for further settings.

“As well as nightclubs and similar venues, you must also now show your NHS Covid Pass to prove that you are either fully vaccinated or have tested negative at cinemas, theatres and concert halls.

“This applies if you are aged 18 or over and also relates to unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people in the audience, any outdoor or indoor unseated venues with a capacity of over 4,000 and any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance. To get a NHS Pass and for more information, see: https://gov.wales/get-your-nhs-covid-pass

“At the last three-week review the First Minister did not introduce the NHS Pass for use in hospitality settings but that remains a possibility for the next review on Friday December 10th.

“Our officers will, of course, keep a close eye on announcements from the Welsh Government as we move closer to Christmas and provide further information as it becomes available.

“Continuing the Christmas theme, I would urge everyone to do their shopping locally wherever possible.

“We have some incredible businesses across our County – including the much-loved markets – and our support will be extremely important to businesses and traders after what has been a tough period.

“All Council car parks will be free on Saturdays and Sundays in December to aid popping into the local shops and picking up some gifts.

“I plan to update you all once again just before Christmas so until then please enjoy the build up to the festive season safely.”

Further information:
I would like to highlight that the My Account redevelopment survey ends 30th November, so please get involved so you can have your say. It can be accessed via:  https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/my-account-re-development-feedback
Also, our ‘Christmas in Pembrokeshire’ section goes live 1st Dec and contains key information on opening times, waste and recycling collections, Christmas Parking (Free parking days), winter driving and salting routes and Christmas Markets.
For further information visit: www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/christmas
www.sir-benfro.gov.uk/nadolig
Additionally, there are a number of engagement and consultation applications from across the county – they include:
▪ Narberth Library: (closes 30th Nov)
▪ Eco Park Pre-Application Consultation: (closes 9th Dec)
▪ Net Zero Carbon Plan: (open-ended)
▪ Have Your Say on Council Budget 2022 – 23 (closes 5th Jan). As part of this engagement on Council Budget 2022–23 Cllr Kilmister and Jon Haswell will also be hosting a
Teams Live Stream Event on Wednesday 1st December between 7–8pm.
All are available at: https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/

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Health

Fourty-five nurses recruited from overseas to fill urgent vacancies at local hospitals

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HYWEL DDA Health Board says it has recruited 45 international nurses and plans to increase this number significantly over the coming months.

International nurses have been part of the NHS since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role. Hywel Dda UHB aims at recruiting 100 international nurses this year through the centrally delivered programme with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, local health boards and the Welsh Government.

The newly recruited nurses are part of a wider project to enhance and expand the health board’s nursing workforce which will help deliver the best possible care to patients.

The first cohort of 11 nurses arrived in May. The nurses have taken their objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and are based in Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals

The second cohort of nurses arrived in June. The group of 19 nurses have also taken their OSCE and are based across Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.

The third cohort of nurses arrived in July and are currently undergoing OSCE training in preparation for their examination. The 15 nurses are spread across Glangwili, Prince Philip, Withybush and Bronglais hospitals.

Judith Avan from Nigeria, who works at Bronglais Hospital said: “Living in Wales has been lovely, people are so welcoming, and the weather has been so lovely. I look forward to developing in my career and specialise in respiratory therapy.”

Nabitha Kabeer from India, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “I’m excited about working with NHS Wales. I look forward to enjoying the beauty of Wales and developing in my career. I want to specialise in Infection control or operating theatre nursing or forensic nursing.”

Oyebola Opemipo Tikolo from Nigeria, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “It has been a nice experience on and off the ward, the people are friendly and helpful. I am looking forward to developing in my career by taking more courses, I also look forward to bringing my family over and settling down here. I intend to specialise in midwifery as I have experience in midwifery from my country.”

The UHBs approach to attracting and retaining its employees is to be a value-based organisation.

Director of Workforce and OD Lisa Gostling said: “We continuously work together to be the best we can be as we strive to develop and deliver excellent services, putting people at the heart of everything we do. We want to attract a diverse workforce and are delighted to welcome the newly recruited nurses to the Hywel Dda family.”

If you wish to be kept informed about jobs in Hywel Dda UHB, please follow SwyddiHywelDdaJobs on Facebook or Twitter.

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Health

Avian flu hits Grassholm seabird colony

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BIRDS on Grassholm are at risk following an outbreak of avian flu.

The disease’s presence in Grassholm’s large wild bird population was confirmed on Wednesday, August 3.

Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease.

It affects many species of birds’ respiratory, digestive, or nervous systems.

Some strains of Avian influenza can spread easily and quickly between birds and have a high death rate.

Migratory seabirds and waterfowl are known carriers of avian flu.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain originated in the intensive poultry industry in Asia and has since spread into wild bird populations worldwide.

Up until now, the disease had not reached Grassholm.

Sadly, this is no longer the case.

Following a spate of suspicious deaths during a recent RSPB surveillance visit, DEFRA testing confirmed the disease’s presence.

The outbreak is in its early stages, and RSPB are keeping Grassholm under close surveillance and will update the public as and when there is more to tell.

Very rarely infected birds can pass the disease onto humans.

Grassholm is known for its huge colony of northern gannets; the island has been owned since 1947 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and is one of its oldest reserves.

A National Nature Reserve, Grassholm is the world’s third most important site for gannets.

It serves as a breeding site for 36,000 pairs of gannets and supports around 10 per cent of the world population.

A severe outbreak at a major breeding site would be disastrous, as would the potential for the disease’s spread along the Pembrokeshire coast and the neighbouring islands of Skokholm and Skomer.

At present, the outbreak is small but has the potential to escalate.

You may come across dead or dying gannets (or other seabirds) washed in on beaches around Pembrokeshire.

DO NOT touch these birds, keep dogs away from them, and report to DEFRA on 03459 33 55 77.

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Health

Calls for clarity on Monkeypox vaccination programme in Wales

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THE WELSH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have called on the Welsh Government to offer clarity on its approach to vaccination against the Monkeypox virus in Wales. The calls come after there has been confusion over the approach of the Welsh Government compared to the approach in England.

Monkeypox is an infectious viral disease related to Smallpox that usually causes mild symptoms, although death estimates range from 1%-10% and the disease can be more harmful to those with weak immune systems.

The virus is currently seeing an outbreak in the UK with over 2,000 cases seen so far. The outbreak has spread to over 75 countries with the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring a global health emergency. In Wales the number of cases stood at 24 as of July 21.

Although no vaccine for Monkeypox currently exists, the Smallpox vaccine has proved effective against the virus as they come from the same family.

On June 22, the Welsh Health Minister, Eluned Morgan MS, issued a statement outlining that the UK Health Security Agency recommended the implementation of a vaccine strategy for those most at risk of catching the virus, including men who have sex with men and healthcare workers who work in sexual health services.

However, there has been confusion over the rollout, with those concerned told not to come forward for the vaccine until they are contacted.

Meanwhile in England, multiple clinics have made already made the vaccine available and multiple walk-in clinics have been set up in London.

Calling for more decisive action, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “We really need to see more clarity from the Welsh Government on its plans to ensure those are more likely to be at risk from catching Monkeypox are able to get vaccinated.

“Stating that those on a PrEP prescription will be contacted is fine, but what about the large numbers of susceptible people who are not on PrEP? In some health boards such as Powys PrEP still isn’t available, which is a problem within itself.

“Given the speed in which the virus is spreading, what we really need to see is vaccines to be made available in clinics across Wales and for walk in appointments also to be made available.

“I would also like the Welsh Government what it is doing to address the limited supply of the MVA vaccine. It is vital that these concerns are clarified to give those at risk peace of mind.”

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