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Health

Self isolation period to reduce from 10 to 7 days in Wales following review

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THE WELSH GOVERNMENT have issued a formal three week review update on the coronavirus situation in Wales, announcing some changes.

Formally the regulations require a review ever 21 days, however recently the Welsh Government have been doing more frequent reviews. Today’s statement appears in line with the three weekly legal review period.

The update has come via a lengthy statement from First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, which in summary notes:

  • Self isolation period to reduce from 10 to 7 days on basis of two negative lateral flow tests taken on days six and seven
  • ‘marked increase’ in covid, attributed to Omicron
  • Case rate increasing in older people
  • Hospitalisations remain low ‘but are starting to increase’
  • Covid bed occupancy ‘has grown by a third over Christmas period’
  • Wales has ‘not seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 patients needing critical care’
  • Wales has ‘significant stock’ of lateral flow tests ‘sufficient’ for needs
  • 4,000,000 more being loaned to England to help shortages, taking total loaned to 10,000,000 in ‘mutual’ aid
  • Supply of such tests ‘responsibility of UK Government’ pointing to deliver and issues finding any at pharmacies.

The full statement from the First Minister is below:

“Since the last formal review of the regulations, the Cabinet has moved to a weekly review in response to the rapidly evolving public health situation and the emergence of the omicron variant.
Today, a review has taken place of the public health situation over the Christmas period. It has deteriorated in the last week as the omicron wave has arrived. We have seen a marked rise in cases of coronavirus – the majority are likely to be caused by the omicron variant.
This is similar to the position in the rest of the UK.
Over the last few days, record numbers of infections have been identified and the overall seven-day case rate has risen to more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people across Wales.
Cases are highest among 20 to 29-year-olds and 30 to 39-year-olds. We are also starting to see the cases rates increase in the older age groups.
Hospitalisations remain lower than in previous waves, but these too are starting to increase. The overall Covid-19 bed occupancy has grown by a third over the Christmas period. This is a combination of both omicron and delta cases.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospital has also increased to 446 on 29 December. This is 49% higher than the same day last week. We have not seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 patients needing critical care.
Enormous efforts have been made to provide booster vaccines to all eligible adults in the run-up to Christmas – almost 1.6m people have received a booster.
The concentrated attention on vaccination has also led to increases in the number of people coming forward for first and second vaccinations in December. It is never too late to be vaccinated in Wales.
I want to place on record my thanks to all those who have given up their time this Christmas to help protect others, and to all those people, in every part of Wales who have made coming forward for vaccination their priority too.
If you have not yet had your booster please make it a priority. It is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself against this awful virus.
Demand for PCR tests and for lateral flow devices continues to rise and has reached new record levels. Wales has a significant stock of lateral flow tests, sufficient to meet our needs over the weeks ahead.
The Health Minister has agreed today to loan a further four million such tests to the English NHS, bringing that mutual aid to 10 million lateral flow tests.
Distribution of lateral flow test kits through home delivery and pharmacies remains the responsibility of the UK Government and we are working with it, as it increases the capacity of the system.
Wales moved to alert level two on Boxing Day. The public health situation remains very volatile and the Christmas period is always one when collecting and analysing data is challenging.
Against this background, the outcome of the review is that we will continue with the current arrangements for alert level two protections in Wales, while continuing to closely monitor the situation.
The Health Minister published a written statement on 23 December about reducing the self-isolation period from 10 to seven days, on the basis of two negative lateral flow tests taken on days six and seven, from 5 January.
We will introduce this change tomorrow (31 December).
This means people who have tested positive for Covid-19 must self-isolate for seven days. On days six and seven of their self-isolation period they should take lateral flow tests and if these tests – taken 24 hours apart – are positive, they should continue to self-isolate.
We are bringing the change forward because the balance of harms has changed and the rising number of cases has begun to have an impact on the number of people, in critical jobs, who are excluded from the workplace because of self-isolation.
The Cabinet will continue to review the position in Wales on a weekly basis, as we see the omicron variant take hold across Wales. Given the seriousness of the threat the virus poses, it remains vitally important that each one of us continues to take all those simple precautions which will help to slow down the spread of the virus and the risks it poses to all of us.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should Members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.”
Commenting on the changes to the Labour Welsh Government’s isolation rules, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Russell George MS, said: “Along with the Health Minister, I extend our enormous gratitude to all the NHS professionals and volunteers who have spent the Christmas period looking after us in hospital, and keeping the vaccine programme rolling out. Your dedication and commitment will not be forgotten.
“We welcome the changes announced today that sees the self-isolation reduced by three days to enable those critical workers, to keep the economy turning and to maintain staff levels in the NHS. It is a shame that the Labour Government rejected this change last week but at least they have seen the evidence and changed their minds.
“However, the Labour Government needs to lead by example and publish the evidence they are receiving before making decisions, so that we can thoroughly scrutinise their actions. It is not good enough that they want to impose restrictions, which do not make sense, without showing us this crucial evidence to justify them.”

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Community

Potential sites for new hospital reviewed

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PEOPLE from communities across the three counties have helped assess five sites in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, as part of a wider process to identify a location for a new Planned and Urgent Care Hospital.

Attendees at the workshop, on Tuesday 28 June, were drawn from across the region, including participants with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, as well as health board staff and partners. Attendees reviewed each of the sites, before scoring them based on an agreed set of technical criteria.

Further information about the technical criteria, and how they were ‘weighted’ to determine the allocation of scores, can be found here. Transport and accessibility to services at the hospital was identified as the highest weighted criteria.

All the sites below are in a zone between and including St Clears and Narberth. This zone, which was agreed following our consultation in 2018, is the most central location for the majority of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

The health board is committed to the principle that the public voice in this scoring exercise would be no less than 52% of the total. Therefore, the Consultation Institute has increased the relative proportion of the public score accordingly. The scoring of the sites following the technical land appraisal workshop are as follows:

Site

Score

Agricultural land and buildings forming part of Kiln Park Farm which is located to the north of Narberth train station and adjacent to the A478, approximately 1km to the north-east of Narberth town centre

365

Agricultural land located to the north-east of Whitland town centre and situated between the A40 to the north, Whitland Rugby Club to the east and Spring Gardens to the south

373

Agricultural land and buildings forming part of Ty Newydd Farm which is located to the east of the Old Whitland Creamery site and Whitland town centre.

365

Agricultural land and buildings forming part of Penllyne Court located between Whitland and St Clears just outside Pwll-Trap.The site lies between the Swansea-Haverfordwest railway line to the north and the A40 to the south

334

Agricultural land at old Bryncaerau fields, located adjacent to the junction of the A40 and A477 in St Clears, between the A4066 (Tenby Road) to the south, the village of Pwll Trap to the north and the A40 to the west

372

The establishment of a new hospital is a fundamental part of the health board’s wider plans, which also include providing more community integrated care centres and services closer to people’s homes.

The benefits of the new hospital, which would bring together the Accident and Emergency Departments and acute medical care from Withybush and Glangwili hospitals, would include:

the ability to physically separate urgent and planned care so one has less of an impact on the other, which should give better waiting times for people already waiting too long for planned care
a more resilient response from clinical teams at the front door, as teams will be brought together, releasing ambulances back onto the roads and meaning people get quicker access to the decision making needed to allow them to go home, or be admitted to hospital if needed
more attractive medical staffing rotas, bringing larger teams of clinicians together and providing more opportunity and strength to our discussions around bringing more specialities into west Wales
more attractive rotas to support staff well-being and retention and act as an attractor for new staff

Lee Davies, Executive Director of Strategic Development & Operational Planning at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “I would like to thank all participants for their involvement and contribution in helping us to consider the sites for our new urgent and planned care hospital. The comments and questions received during the workshop were direct, honest, and challenging and highlighted the passion that exists in our communities for high quality health care. We believe this type of engagement is vital to ensuring we reach the best decision for the future location of the new hospital.
“The output from this workshop does not necessarily mean the new hospital will be located at the site with the highest score. This appraisal group is one of four, with the others reviewing matters covering clinical, workforce, and economic / financial issues.

“The reports for each of these appraisal groups will be considered by Hywel Dda’s Board in August. By following this thorough process and engaging with the public, the Board will be able to fully understand the evidence to decide on the best way forward, to meet the clinical, health and care demands for our future generations, and deliver the ambitions of the Healthier Mid and West Wales strategy and secure a scale of investment never before seen in west Wales.”

The land technical appraisal workshop and engagement process were managed with support and advice from The Consultation Institute, a not-for-profit, independent body, which provide guidance on best practice for engaging with communities.

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Health

Tenby mass vaccination centre temporarily closed due to Long Course Weekend

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TENBY’S mass vaccination centre will be temporarily closed on Saturday 2 July and Sunday 3 July due to the Long Course Weekend.

The vaccination centre, located at Tenby Leisure Centre, SA70 8EJ, will be open Friday 1 July between 10am and 7.30pm for drop-ins.

Other locations are open over the weekend, including Haverfordwest’s mass vaccination centre at the Pembrokeshire Archives (SA61 2PE) which is open for drop-ins between 10:00am and 3:00pm on Saturday 2 July and between 10:00am – 7:30pm on Sunday 3 July.

Tenby mass vaccination centre will continue to operate its regular opening hours of Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 10:00am – 7.30pm the following weekend. Thank you for your understanding.

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Health

Reminder for people to get their spring booster in Wales

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PEOPLE eligible for the spring COVID-19 booster are being urged to get vaccinated before the cut-off date of Thursday 30 June.

Since late March, people aged 75 and over, care home residents, and anyone aged 12 or over who is immunosuppressed have been able to get their spring booster to increase their level of protection against COVID-19.

By taking up the offer of a spring booster now, this allows a sufficient interval between doses, if they are deemed eligible by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for an autumn 2022 booster.

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a COVID-19 infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days (4 weeks) from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June if they have to postpone their appointment.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:

“Our high vaccination rates are really encouraging and every vaccination helps people to maintain high levels of protection from COVID-19.

“If you have been offered a spring booster vaccination then please make the effort to arrange your appointment before the 30 June cut-off and continue to keep Wales safe.”

Parents and guardians are also encouraged to check when their children aged 5 to 11 are due their next vaccination.

If a child has recently had COVID-19 when they were offered their vaccination in the early spring, they will be able to be vaccinated after 12 weeks.

Any child who has had their first dose, is encouraged to take up the offer of their second dose before the start of the autumn school term.

We are also encouraging students to complete their full course of two doses before returning to university and college in September to make sure they are as protected as possible.

Check your local health board for full details of how to get vaccinated – https://gov.wales/get-your-covid-19-vaccination

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