SCHOOLS will remain open as Wales moves into the “delay” phase in containing the coronavirus, the Welsh Government has announced.
The advice will change from today (Mar 13), with people who become unwell being asked to self-isolate for seven days.
Chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said the trajectory of the virus was now “quite clear” and the challenge remained preparing for a significant number of cases in Wales.
Dr Atherton said: “Wales was now really in the delay phase of the virus and it would lead to some inconvenience for people not going to work or school.
“We need to reduce the demand on the health and social care system so it can prepare for peak which may be May or June.”
SCHOOLS OPEN FOR NOW
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said closing schools was not an appropriate option for now.
He told a press conference at 3.30pm Thursday (Mar 112): “Ministers have had clear advice that closing schools now is not an appropriate step to take. For now, the advice and guidance is very clear. Schools should stay open.
“To be effective measure schools would have to be closed for a significant amount of time.
“If we close schools, what impact does that have on parents? Parents could be nurses, doctors or the police. We need to keep key workers in work.
“Another point is, if parents can’t look after them then it’s likely that older members of the family or grandparents will be. Older people are the people we want to protect now and in the future.
“Furthermore, in the Easter break, lots of children will be with each other anyway. The value in closing schools is low.
“Ministers are making choices guided by the best possible evidence and scientific advice.
“Members of governments around the UK need to take a responsible approach and take steps where there is no medical advice to do so within the four nations of the UK.”
Six new cases of coronavirus have been identified in Wales, bringing the total to 25 at the time of going to press. (7pm, March 12)
785 people in Wales have been tested for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). 760 results were negative, and 25 results were positive.
Milford Haven School postponed the concert due to take place yesterday (Mar 12). The school stated on social media: “We have regrettably made the decision to cancel the scheduled Milford Haven Cluster Welsh Concert here at Milford Haven School tonight.
“The decision is owing to us taking a proactive approach to prioritising the health and safety of not only our own pupils, but also their families and the wider community. Please note, this is not due to any specific health concern within the school. We will announce rescheduling of this event in due course.”
ROBUST MEASURES IN PLACE
Dr Robin Howe, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales told The Herald that he was certain that “robust infection control measures in place.”
“The public can be assured that Wales and the whole of the UK is prepared for these types of incidents. Working with our partners in Wales and the UK, we have implemented our planned response, with robust infection control measures in place to protect the health of the public.
“We would encourage people to check the advice for returning travellers, which includes guidance for those returning from Italy, China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Iran.
“Members of the public can help protect themselves and others by always carrying tissues, and using them to catch coughs or sneezes. They should bin the tissue, and to kill the germs, wash their hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel. This is the best way to slow the spread of most germs, including Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Public Health Wales’ trained scientists are now conducting the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic test in Wales. Over 90 per cent of the individuals who have been tested in Wales have been offered testing in their own home, making it as convenient as possible for them, as well as protecting our ambulance and hospital resources for those who need it most. We are not able to comment on individual cases for reasons of patient confidentiality.”
Official updates on the virus in Wales will now be given at 11:00 daily.
There are now 596 confirmed cases in the UK, up from 456 on Wednesday, and two more deaths, of people with underlying health conditions in London and Essex, taking the total to 10.
GP practices thanked for Covid-19 vaccine efforts
Hywel Dda University Health Board is thanking primary care for the commitment and energy shown as GP practices near the completion of offering second doses to every patient vaccinated at their GP practice.
All 48 GP practices across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire signed up to deliver the programme, committing to delivering the programme to certain JCVI priority groups.
Of all doses given so far within the three counties, almost 213,000 vaccines (51%) have been given by GP practices. Practices are now well on their way to completing the task of offering a second dose to every patient who has had a first vaccine and have already done 96,500 second vaccine doses at the time of publication.
Dr Sion James, Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care said “Having the experience of running the vaccination programme in my own practice I know how both challenging and rewarding it has been to be part of this programme. It is testament to our Practices commitment to delivering the best patient care possible that they have continued to work with us throughout the programme.
Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community Services and Long Term Care said “I am proud of the commitment shown by all of our practices for the excellent work that they have done in helping the Health Board to deliver this programme. Throughout the pandemic their commitment to maintaining the delivery of general medical services to their patients hasn’t wavered despite staff being under pressure and feeling tired. The delivery of the vaccination programme has been a whole system effort to protect our patients.”
Asbestos Related Diseases in Wales – a call out to readers for their story
The Llanelli Herald are asking readers to contact us at the email address below if they, or their family members have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease.
Have you or a family member been diagnosed with an industrial related disease such as: asbestosis; pleural plaques or mesothelioma which was contracted through the course of you or your family’s employment in Llanelli? If so, then please contact us confidentially to discuss your experience.
The Herald Wales are in the process of launching a public awareness campaign on asbestos and the potential consequences it can pose to the health of those who have dealt with it and the damage to the environment which such material can have.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre which was widely used in construction and other industries until the late 1990s in the UK. People were and still can be unwittingly exposed to asbestos in their homes, employment and communities.
If products containing asbestos are disturbed, fibers from it can then break off and be released into the environment. When asbestos fibres are breathed in, they can enter the lungs which over time, can cause inflammation, which can affect breathing and further lead to various, serious terminal health problems.
Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your story.
Scientists issue urgent appeal for help on ground-breaking Covid genetic study
SCIENTISTS involved in a ground-breaking COVID-19 genetic research study are urgently asking people across Wales who caught the virus to donate a small amount of blood to their project.
To help encourage as many people as possible to join the study, volunteers are now able to quickly and easily book an appointment for a nurse to visit their home and donate a sample.
The unique GenOMICC COVID-19 Study, which is being delivered in Wales through Health and Care Research Wales, analyses the genes of people who have had the virus to discover why some experienced mild or no symptoms while others became extremely ill. The study is already contributing to the fight again COVID, with preliminary results helping identify possible new treatments.
However, for the study to continue to make progress, the scientists urgently need to recruit 2,500 more people from all backgrounds. Along with seeking the help of members of Asian and Black communities, they’re also keen for more men to volunteer.
The home appointment system has already proved popular when the scheme was launched in Scotland and Bradford earlier this year – and with lockdown restrictions beginning to be eased in Wales, organisers are hoping for a similar response from people across the country.
“This study has one key objective – to help us understand why COVID-19 has impacted different groups in different ways,” said Dr Matt Morgan, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at the University Hospital of Wales and Specialty Lead for Critical Care at Health and Care Research Wales.
“Across the UK, a disproportionate number of people who ended up in hospital have been male as well as people with Asian and Black heritage – that’s why we need people from these groups in particular to join the study as soon as possible.”
“If you are eligible, please register and join the project. You’ll be making a direct contribution to helping improve our knowledge of the virus and discovering new ways of beating it.”
Dr Kenneth Baillie, the study’s Chief Investigator, said: “We’re appealing for more volunteers from all walks of life to come forward and register. We need to find people who tested positive for COVID but experienced either mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment. To maximise the study’s potential, it’s important these volunteers are similar in age, gender and ethnicity of those people who were severely affected and hospitalised.”
Professor Sir Mark Caulfied, Chief Scientist at Genomics England added: “The quicker this research can be completed, the faster we can solve the COVID-19 puzzle and protect vulnerable people.
Genetic research into COVID-19 is now playing an increasingly important role in our fight against the virus, enabling us to identify new forms of the virus and develop treatments.
“The findings from the GenOMICC COVID-19 Study will improve the treatment, care and outcome for those most at risk and lower the number of deaths.”
Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, said: “It’s vital we learn as much as possible about COVID-19 and to do that we need people to volunteer to take part in research. By introducing an appointment booking system, the GenOMICC COVID-19 Study is giving people the opportunity to contribute to potentially life-saving research from their own homes. These contributions can help provide the evidence we need to give all patients the best possible outcome.”
The research project is open to anyone who tested positive to COVID-19 but experienced mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment – volunteers can register online here.
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