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Vaccine milestone achieved in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire

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WITH thanks to the amazing efforts of vaccination teams and GP practices across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, we can confirm that Hywel Dda UHB has met the first Welsh Government vaccination milestone of offering a first dose to everyone in groups 1 to 4 by Monday 15 February. 

Locally recorded figures confirm that at 10am today, Monday 15 February, 101,938 vaccines have been administered – that’s 92% of local people in the first 4 priority groups. With many GP practices and the Health Board’s Mass Vaccination Centres working hard over the weekend it is likely that there is still more data yet to be added but even without this, the local NHS has risen to the challenge to protect its most vulnerable people in record time.

The health board’s focus now turns to the next stage of its vaccination programme as we move on to the next priority groups while also providing second doses to those who received their first dose in December.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said, “This vaccination programme offers a real solution in the fight against COVID-19 and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has played their part in this achievement.

“I’d also like to thank our community in groups priority groups 1 to 4 who have come forward in large numbers to receive their vaccine. At the start of this programme we viewed success would mean 75% of each group receiving a vaccine.

“We have surpassed this in all four groups and this puts our three counties in a very strong position to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and our local NHS.

“We hope to see this high uptake continue as we move to vaccinate groups 5 to 9 by spring and to the rest of our adult population through the summer. Thank you.”

Over the next few weeks, there will be a temporary reduction in the use of mass vaccination centres across the three counties in order to manage the logistics of delivering second doses in sequence at the vaccination centre where the first dose was received and also due to a slight reduction in the amount of vaccines being received.

Please be assured this is a planned and expected change in supply that will affect the whole of the UK. This has been factored this into our planning and it will not affect people’s appointments or delay when people are due to get their second dose. The supply of vaccines is expected to ramp up significantly from the beginning of March.

People aged 65 to 69 (priority group 5) will start to be contacted by their GP practice over the next couple of weeks to receive their vaccine and further announcements as to how people in group 6 will be invited will be made as soon as possible.

We understand people are anxious and want to know when they can have the vaccine. Please do not contact your GP, pharmacy or health board; you will be contacted when it is your turn. People will be invited to receive the vaccine in order of priority, so please be patient.

As more of our community start to receive a vaccine, people are reminded they must continue to follow current advice and guidance with regards to social distancing and wearing face coverings.

The vaccine will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. We do not yet know yet whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus.

For more information about the vaccine and the Hywel Dda vaccination programme, please visit https://hduhb.nhs.wales/COVID19-Vaccination

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New Mayoral Team for Llanelli

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LLANELLI Town Council has announced the appointment of its new Mayor, Councillor Michael Cranham and its new Deputy Mayor, Councillor Sean Rees for the next Civic Year. 

The Annual Mayor Making ceremony of the Town Council took place virtually on Monday (May 17) and saw Town Councillors taking part via phone, video chat and in person. 

Councillor Cranham’s wife Megan will be his Mayoress and Councillor Rees’s sister Sarah will be his Deputy Mayoress.

Councillor Cranham who represents the Bigyn Ward (which covers the Stebonheath, Penyfan & Llwynwhilwg, Coedcae & Glenalla areas) said: “It is a great honour for me to be voted in as the new Mayor of Llanelli. We pledge to do our utmost and positively promote our Town during my term of office. 

“We are committed to showing recognition to the contribution of all our unsung heroes who during the pandemic have continued to do so much in keeping us all safe and well. 

“My chosen charities for the forthcoming year include CYCA and Tŷ Bryngwyn Hospice. We are very pleased to be able to help these incredible local organisations who are committed everyday to putting the health and well-being of others first.

Councillor Rees who represents the Glanymor Ward (which covers the Seaside & North Dock, New Dock, Morfa & Machynys areas) added: “Llanelli is a place we are very proud to call home and community engagement will be at the heart of everything we do. My thanks to the Mayor for placing his trust in me to act as his Deputy. 

“Our focus will be on supporting the strong network of voluntary and charity groups from across the Town. We look forward to undertaking this great responsibility and continuing to serve the communities we represent to the very best of our ability.”

The roles of the Mayoral Team will include carrying out many civic duties during the year, chairing meetings of the full Council, and being involved with a programme of events designed to raise awareness of all the good work being carried out across Llanelli. 

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New international travel rules for Wales confirmed by First Minister

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International travel will restart for people in Wales from Monday 17 May, the Welsh Government has confirmed today.

As part of changes to Wales’ coronavirus regulations, people living in Wales will be able to travel to some overseas destinations without the need to quarantine on their return.

But additional safeguards will be put in place to help prevent new cases of coronavirus being imported into Wales.

A traffic lights system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as green, amber and red, depending on their rates of coronavirus.

Mandatory quarantine is in place for all people returning to the UK from countries on the amber and red lists. All people returning from overseas travel must have a PCR test.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

 “Wales, like other parts of the UK, will be restarting international travel. But protecting people’s health continues to be our top priority and we want to do everything we can to prevent coronavirus from being re-imported into Wales.

 “This will not be like travel in the past. Everyone travelling abroad will have to have a test when they come home and for many people, they will need to quarantine when they get home. There are significant fines in place for those who do not follow the legal requirements.

“Some countries are not yet opening up travel to people from the UK. It’s my strong advice that this is the year to stay at home and enjoy all that Wales has to offer.”

Under the international travel rules:

• People arriving from green-list countries are not required to quarantine on their return to Wales, but they must book and pay for a mandatory PCR test on or before day two of their return. All travellers and members of their household will also be reminded about the availability of additional lateral flow tests to continue to monitor their health.

• People arriving from amber-list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home on their return. This is a legal requirement. They are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and on day eight. Unlike in England, Wales does not operate a test-to-release scheme where an additional test can be taken on day five to reduce the period of quarantine. This is because some 30% of people who develop Covid-19 do so after day five.

• People arriving from countries on the red list are required to quarantine for a full 10 days on arrival in the UK at a designated UK port in a government-managed facility – a ‘covid hotel’ – at their own cost, starting from £1,750 per person. All UK entry points for arrivals from red-list countries are in England and Scotland, which means Welsh residents returning from those countries will need to quarantine outside Wales. Travellers are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and day eight.

All those who do not follow the rules for red-list countries face fixed notice penalties of £10,000.

Welsh residents must also consult the requirements for visitors for any country they plan to travel to. Restrictions may be in place, including proof of vaccination, tests, quarantine and reasons for entry.

Vaccination status certificates will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of their vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof from Monday 24 May.

The First Minister added:

“We call on people to think about whether they need to travel overseas at this time. We should be cautious about going abroad in light of the ongoing risk of coronavirus and the presence of variants of concern in many countries.

“My clear message to everyone is make Wales your destination of choice this year.”

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Main contractor sought for Llanelli’s multi-million-pound Pentre Awel

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A MAIN contractor is being sought to start work on Llanelli’s multi-million-pound Pentre Awel.

Carmarthenshire County Council has gone out to tender to appoint a contractor for zone one of the landmark project which will bring together life science innovation, community healthcare and modern leisure facilities all at one location along the Llanelli coastline.

The scheme is the highest valued tendering opportunity the council has ever published and demonstrates its commitment to the project.

As a major capital project, the contractor will be appointed via the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework.  

Significant emphasis has been given to community benefits including recruitment and training, supporting the supply chain and wider community and educational initiatives.

Zone one of the ambitious scheme – anticipated for full completion by the beginning of 2024 – aims to bring together education, business, research, leisure and health in a single building which will be linked together in a ‘street’ layout and connected by a central atrium comprising a reception, café and other public amenities.

The new leisure centre will have state-of-the-art sports and fitness facilities including a 25-metre eight-lane swimming pool, new top-of-the-range gym, eight-court sports hall and an adventure play area.

The plans also include incubation and acceleration spaces for that will help research businesses develop innovative healthcare technology, and a clinical research and delivery centre focusing on community level clinical trials, and providing multi-disciplinary care closer to home for a wide range of community-facing services.

A proposed well-being skills centre will provide health and care training, with courses ranging from entry level through to postgraduate, placing students in a clinical setting and focusing on areas where there is a skill shortage.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole said: “This is the first step in an extensive procurement exercise for Pentre Awel and I am delighted that after years of planning we are now in a position to deliver this exciting development which will bring huge benefits to the people of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.

“Both UK and Welsh Government have recently approved the business case which means we can now start to draw down the £40million Swansea Bay City Deal funding to help with its delivery.

“Pentre Awel is the first development of its scope and size in Wales, it will bring a wide range of employment and training opportunities for local people while considerably boosting the local economy.

“This could not have come at a better time as we begin our economic recovery from COVID-19.”

Set within an 83-acre site at Delta Lakes, Pentre Awel is being delivered by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board, Universities and Colleges including Coleg Sir Gar, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Cardiff University and Swansea University.

The plans for Pentre Awel also include assisted living accommodation to meet a wide range of care needs, a hotel, and elements of both open market and social and affordable housing which will be delivered in zones two, three and four. Landscaped outdoor public spaces for recreation with walking and cycling paths will benefit from spectacular views across the Loughor Estuary and Carmarthen Bay.

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