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New Covid-19 variant classed ‘of concern’ and named Omicron

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THE UK GOVERNMENT has temporarily halted flights from six southern African countries: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Lesotho

The European Centre for Disease Control (CDC) says that it has classified the new Omnicron coronavirus variant as being “of concern”.

Officials say that the level of risk associated with the variant is “very high” and that it is extremely likely that the variant will spread across the EU.

Omicron is a word you will be hearing a lot about in the weeks and months to come, most analysts are saying.
The agency added that it feared the profile of the variant may mean that the effectiveness of vaccines could be reduced and that natural immunity may be decreased.

On Friday, Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services said that the Welsh government in Cardiff was taking immediate action to move the eight south African countries onto the red list for travel as the variant may be capable of evading the protection provided by vaccines.

The Minister said: “The variant has been linked to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

These countries have moved onto the red list from 12pm today. Two additional countries, Mozambique and Malawi, will also move onto the list from 8pm (20:00) today.
“This means travellers from these destinations will not be permitted to enter Wales but must enter through a port of entry in England or Scotland and go into a managed quarantine facility for 10 days. They must also take post-arrival PCR tests on day 2 and day 8.

South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla told reporters that the flight bans were “unjustified”.

“The reaction of some of the countries, in terms of imposing travel bans, and such measures, are completely against the norms and standards as guided by the World Health Organization,” he said.

CONCERNED: WHO (PIC FILE)

Stock markets across the world also fell sharply on Friday, reflecting the fears of investors over the potential economic impact.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid says there is “huge international concern” over the variant.

MULTIPLE CONCERNING MUTATIONS

Professor Anne von Gottberg of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg said that most strains of the virus have about five to 10 spike mutations, but the Omicron has around 25 to 32.
“So it really was immediately noticeable that something unusual had happened,” she said.
“There are a lot of mutations that are new and that we haven’t seen before,” she said.

She said it was as yet unclear what can be determined from the multiple mutations.
But she said it was precisely because they couldn’t fully understand its characteristics that merited further study and a cautious approach to the new strain.

Prof John Edmunds, a member of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) which advises the government, says the new variant, B.1.1.529, is a “huge worry” and could escape current Covid vaccines.
“The molecular data is extremely worrying – it would point to that perhaps this thing might be able to evade the immune response” he said on a BBC radio programme.

Asked if the new variant could be resistant to current vaccines, Edmunds – an infectious diseases expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – confirms this is scientists’ “great fear” but it is not yet known to what extent the variant might be able to do so.

“Our fears are it would do so to a large extent” The UK is “still fighting a Delta wave” and does not want to be “fighting both at the same time” as it could create a “very, very, very difficult situation”.

A technician uses a single channel pipette dropper, Johannesburg, South Africa (Pic PA)
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Tragic baby Callum’s death was due to ‘acute and severe loss of blood’

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AN INQUEST into the death of a newborn baby from Haverfordwest has determined the cause of death as shock due to an ‘acute and severe loss of blood’.

The inquest into Callum Ragan James’ death on May 5, 2016 was heard at County Hall over a two day period.

Senior Coroner for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire Paul Bennett offered his condolences to Callum’s parents Mr and Mrs James from Haverfordwest.

He said: “I cannot imagine how distressed Mr and Mrs James felt when their son did not survive.

“This has been a very difficult inquest to hear. I would like to pay tribute to Mr and Mrs James in their fortitude of this case.”

The inquest heard how on May 5, Ellie James went from Withybush Hospital over to Glangwili Hospital after it was established she was in the early stages of labour, where she was met by midwife Ebba Lewis.

Mrs James was taken to a midwifery led unit at the hospital and was offered the use of a  birthing pool.

It was from there that complications became apparent after a large amount of blood was seen within the pool.

It was decided that Mrs James would be taken to a bed and transferred to the labour-led ward, where there are consultants available. 

Mrs James’ labour was progressing at a speed which thwarted attempts to transport her to the labour-led unit and she gave birth in the midwifery ward.

Mr Bennett confirmed that Callum was born at 11.08pm and at 11.34pm and steps were taken to get his lungs working and circulation started, but efforts to resuscitate him were abandoned at 11.34pm.

Mrs James questioned the judgement of whether she was giving birth in the appropriate ward, due to complications with her first pregnancy, and said she was assured she would give birth to Callum in a labour-led unit.

Mrs James also questioned her own judgement on whether abdominal pain she had experienced earlier in the labour played a part in the fate of Callum.

Family counsel Jodie Kembery, asked whether Mrs Lewis was aware of the pain that Mrs Lewis was experiencing and whether she should have in fact been transferred to the labour-led unit instead.

Giving evidence at the inquest, midwife Mrs Lewis said: “No, because she was not deemed as high risk [on arrival to Glangwili]. There were no signs of deviation from the normal, so she was classed as low risk.

“We asked how she is feeling. I do not recall specifically asking about the abdominal pain.

Mrs Leeves, the senior midwife on duty and who assisted Mrs Lewis with Callum’s delivery was also called upon to give evidence.

Speaking on the delivery, Ms Leeves told the inquest: “I entered, and Mrs James was on the bed with there being concern about blood loss in the pool. I looked at it and was concerned, but Mrs James remained stable so our main objective was to transfer her [to the labour-led ward] to listen to Callum’s heart.”

The speed in which the delivery progressed, halted all plans to transfer Mrs James upstairs to the labour-led unit.

She added: “We felt it was not appropriate to transfer Mrs James to the labour ward.

“There were strong urges to push, which is normal, and we felt there was no time.”

Mrs James told the inquest: “When Callum was born, I was ecstatic. To me he looked perfect. It was not until I saw the midwife’s face that I knew something was not right.”

Dr Patrick Forbes, Consultant Obstetrics and gynaecologist agreed that the decisions that the midwife made that day were right.

Dr Forbes also wrote two reports on the case.

He said: “It was absolutely correct to take Mrs James out the pool and I agree entirely that the appropriate action is to move the patient to the labour ward. However, one of the things I would dread in that situation is getting into the lift and the baby appearing.”

“Mrs James did not identify to be considered high risk in the second pregnancy,” said Dr Forbes, “which meant it was suitable, if she agreed, for delivery in the midwifery unit. It was appropriate for her to stay on the MLU at Glangwili when she arrived.

“The descriptions by Mrs Ebba and Ms Leaves are much in line with standard practice.”

Concluding the case, Coroner Paul Bennett said: “Callum died as a result of hypovolemic shock brought about by an acute and severe loss of blood which occurred during the course of his delivery at Glangwili Hospital on May 5, 2016.”

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5* rating for Pembrokeshire’s Bluestone as thousands plan wellness breaks to beat the winter blues

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ONE of Pembrokeshire’s short break destinations is celebrating a five-star rating for its luxury spa as more than two million people living in the UK plan a wellness break.

Bluestone National Park Resort, near Narberth has been awarded a 5* Bubble Rating for its Well Spa Retreat from The Good Spa Guide. It comes after the spa was revealed as ESPA’s Flagship Wales Spa of 2021.

Figures reveal more than two million UK residents plan to book a wellness break to escape the winter blues, according to travel association ABTA.

The Good Spa Guide awarded the Well Spa the accolade for its wide range of treatments, its Thermal Suite of saunas and steam rooms, high quality staff and spa therapists, food, changing facilities and more.

It followed a “mystery visit” by the guide’s spa experts. They look for standards of facilities, cleanliness, customer service and the range of treatments, created in-house, including the use of handcrafted hot stones made from actual bluestones.

The Well Spa Retreat sits within the centre in the heart of a private village within the 500-acre resort near Narberth. It’s surrounded by luxury lodges, cottages, and apartments in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, renowned for its natural beauty and tranquillity.

“We’re really happy to have been awarded five bubbles stars from The Good Spa Guide. The guide is one of the UK’s leading authorities on spas and to know we’re among the best in the country is recognition of our team and the high standards and customer service we always strive to attain,” said Samantha Hewer, Manager of The Well Spa.

“Many of our guests at Bluestone book into the spa because they want to enhance their wellbeing. Whether it’s one of our unique treatments, designed by us, or relaxing in one of our brick saunas or one of our herbal steam rooms. Combining the spa with their short-break stay, or by experiencing one of our spa breaks, is a great way of relaxing and recharging the batteries.”

According to The Good Spa Guide: “Five bubble spas will give you the whole package; an uninterrupted spa journey, tip top treatments, first rate facilities and fabulous customer service. They may have a wider choice or facilities or cutting-edge treatments. Be prepared for a slice of spa luxury.”

It adds: It’s all about expectation and promise fulfilment: As long as a spa does what it says it does well, we’re happy Spa Spies.”

The Well Spa is about to launch a new range of treatments in the spring. Samantha added: “We’re keeping tight lipped about our new treatments for the Spring, needless to say our guests, old and new, will enjoy the new range and they’ll be getting five-star treatment with it.”

The Well Spa Retreat is offering a range of health and wellbeing breaks. These include the Spa Escape Break which includes staying in a luxury studio apartment within the resort’s private village where guests can explore the 500-acre resort, as well as enjoying dining at one of the many eateries.

They can even have an invigorating splash into the Blue Lagoon Waterpark or take to the woods for a range of Steep Ravine activities and much more.

The break includes a one-night stay, a 60-minute treatment per adult (over 18 years), and a one-hour visit to the Thermal Suite per adult. Prices start at £214 based on two people staying on 1st February 2022.

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Same Day Urgent Care at Cardigan Integrated Care Centre

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CARDIGAN’S Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) and Same Day Urgent Care service (SDUC) will once again open for walk-in appointments this weekend (22/23 January 2022) after providing care and treatment for nearly 30 patients who would otherwise have gone to A&E or their GP.

As part of a new trial to help relieve pressures on our hospital A&E departments, the nurse-led services – which are based in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre – opened for weekend walk-ins without prior appointment between 15 and 16 January, with our staff seeing and treating a number of patients over the two days.

The services are led by Advanced Nurse Practitioners who can assess, diagnose and treat walk-in patients who are then able to return home the same day, with a plan of care involving referrals to other services if necessary.

Our hospitals are currently dealing with unprecedented demand, which is leading to significant delays in care provision and long waits in A&E. If you have a condition which could be seen and treated at Cardigan’s Integrated Care Centre, we would strongly encourage you to attend as you can be seen more quickly, as well as helping to relieve pressure on the hospital system.

The type of conditions our Advanced Nurse Practitioners can see and treat include:

  • Chest Infections
  • Wound Infections
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Tonsillitis / sore throat
  • Ear Infections
  • Minor Chest/Hip/Pelvic/Back injuries – Patient must be able to mobilise
  • Minor Head Injury
  • Non-cardiac chest pain
  • Skin complaints including rashes, infections, and sunburn
  • Sprains, strains & soft tissue injuries
  • Hay fever, Mild allergic reactions
  • Minor injuries – cuts, wounds
  • Minor eye injuries, complaints and irritations requiring irrigation, and Chemical eye injury
  • Emergency contraception
  • Suspected fractures and injuries to knee, lower leg, ankle, and feet
  • Suspected fractures and injuries to arms
  • Animal, insect, or human bites
  • Minor burns & scalds
  • Removal of foreign bodies from eyes, ears, nose & skin

In patient feedback given to our nurses over the weekend of 15 and 16 January, all patients agreed or strongly agreed that staff had explained the service; that they were satisfied with their treatment plan, and that they had the opportunity to raise questions or concerns.

Patients also reported feeling more confident about managing their symptoms and being satisfied with the service to the point of recommending it to others. 

Sian Lewis, Clinical Lead Nurse for Ceredigion Community, said: “Our Advanced Nurses were really pleased to be able to see and treat so many patients last weekend – particularly given that many of them would have otherwise faced long waits in A&E for the type of conditions that our teams here are well equipped to deal with.

“Please give us a call, or come down to the Integrated Care Centre in Cardigan if you need care and you think we can help – you don’t need an appointment, we can provide a quick service and you can be on your way home on the same day with a care plan if you need it.”

Cardigan Integrated Care Centre is located at Rhodfa’r Felin, Cardigan SA43 1JX. If you would like to speak with a triage nurse at the centre first to discuss your condition, please call 01239 803 075. 

If you have a more urgent care need or in a medical emergency, please dial 999.

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