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Health Board urges eligible groups to get flu vaccinaton

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THE ANNUAL Hywel Dda programme to encourage people in eligible groups across mid and west Wales to have a vaccination to protect themselves from influenza (flu), a virus that can cause serious illness, has been launched.

This year Hywel Dda has developed a localised campaign aimed at bringing together every resident in mid and west Wales to tackle this problem as one collective community.

The superhero based theme is a call to action urging residents to become a ‘superprotector’ by getting vaccinated which will ultimately help protect themselves, patients, their families, colleagues and neighbours from catching flu.

The theme will be introduced across Hywel Dda sites using visuals and messaging that have been developed to be eye-catching, memorable and mean something to those that that view the messages with a hope that they are encouraged to make the effort to receive their flu vaccination.

A spokesperson said: “We have particular challenges around flu vaccination uptake in the Hywel Dda region so whilst the campaign calls on everyone to get vaccinated it also focuses specifically groups that are eligible for a free vaccination which include NHS staff, pregnant women, people with certain chronic long-term health conditions, and everyone aged 65 and over. We are also encouraging everyone, whether eligible for a free NHS vaccine or not, to have the vaccination to help prevent the spread of flu.”

Children aged two to ten-years-old are also eligible as the vaccine programme for children is again being extended this year. The vaccine for adults is a small injection, but for children it is a simple nasal spray. Children aged between two and three years can receive the nasal vaccine at their GP surgery while those in reception class and every primary school can get it at school.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board, who launched the today, reiterated it is vital that those most at risk take advantage of the free vaccine: “Influenza can be a life-threatening illness for people who are at risk due to their age, an underlying health problem, or because they are pregnant. Sadly, influenza kills people in Wales every year.

“Influenza spreads very easily. Extending the programme to more children this year will help protect them from catching flu, and will also prevent them spreading it to others in the community who may be very vulnerable. I particularly call on the parents of 2-3 year old children to get their children vaccinated with the simple nasal spray this year as the statistics show as few as six 2-3 year old children vaccinated prevents one case of flu – this age group has the best opportunity over all others to help stop the spread of flu – they are our ultimate “superprotectors”.

“People can be seriously ill with influenza, and a flu vaccination is the best way to protect against it, so I call on each and every person in the Hywel Dda region including all our own staff to join us in helping prevent the spread of this virus by getting vaccinated and help make our local community a safer place to live this winter.”

While most NHS flu vaccines are given in GP surgeries, free vaccination is also available for some eligible adults in many community pharmacies across Wales.

Carers, volunteers providing planned emergency first aid, Community First Responders, and, for the first time this year, people working in care homes that have regular client contact are also entitled to the vaccine.

It’s also recommended that frontline health and social care workers have the free vaccine to protect themselves and those they care for. They can talk to their occupational health department or employer about where and when they can get their vaccine.

Important information about influenza and the vaccine

Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, body aches and fatigue.

The influenza virus is spread via droplets which are sprayed into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces can also spread infection. It can spread rapidly, especially in closed communities such as hospitals, residential homes and schools.

The influenza viruses that circulate and cause illness each winter change and therefore each year the flu vaccine is changed to try and match the circulating strains, in order to give best protection.

Find out more by visiting www.beatflu.org or www.curwchffliw.org or finding Beat Flu or Curwch Ffliw on Twitter and Facebook.

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Welsh vaccine plant evacuated after receiving suspicious package

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A PLANT where doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are produced and stored has been evacuated after receiving a suspicious package.

Police have confirmed to Herald Wales that officers were at Wrexham Industrial Estate in Ash Road, Holt.

John Roberts, who runs CMS Wrexham Ltd, next door to the plant, said he heard a “big bang” at about 11:35 HRS.

Wockhardt UK has confirmed that the plant has been evacuated after receiving a suspicious package.

A statement on its Twitter account said: “Wockhardt UK in Wrexham this morning received a suspicious package.

“Relevant authorities have responded and upon expert advice we have partially evacuated the site pending a full investigation.

“The safety of our employees and business continuity remain of paramount importance.”

A technician at the plant, Ian Hunter, said that the bomb disposal experts from the Royal Logistic Corps had arrived on scene.

Mark Drakeford said: “We are working with local police and the military to find out more about this incident. Thank you to the security personnel who are on-site to protect lives and ensure
the safety of our vaccine supply. This highlights the vital role they play in keeping us all safe. Diolch.”

On Thursday last week Wrexham council leader Mark Pritchard said teams had worked to ensure the vaccine was not lost in the floods.
The Welsh Government said there had been “no adverse effects” on the coronavirus vaccine roll-out.

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Arrest as up to 80 suspected stolen dogs are found by police

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POLICE have recovered a large number of dogs suspected to have been stolen in recent months at two locations over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police attended two areas where dogs and puppies believed to be worth tens of thousands of pounds were found.

South Wales Police observed several dogs being released onto common land from a nearby location in Briton Ferry and recovered six dogs on Saturday, January 23. The owners of these stolen dogs have been identified and they have been returned home. A further criminal investigation is ongoing.

Superintendent Cath Larkman, of South Wales Police, said: “It needs to be borne in mind that these dogs are not merely items of financial value, these are living creatures who feel pain and suffering and loss at being stolen and they are much loved family members in many instances. 

“One of the stolen dogs that was recovered at Briton Ferry fell into the water in panic at being released and had to be rescued by a police officer to prevent it drowning. 

“We are pleased these dogs are back with their owners.  As a police service, we take this criminality very seriously and our investigations are ongoing.  We are grateful for the assistance of the public for their support with this investigation.”

On Sunday (January 24), Dyfed-Powys Police attended an address in Carmarthenshire, where officers found a large number of dogs and puppies in outbuildings.

Detective Inspector Barry Kelly, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “We had been alerted to this property by a dog owner who reported the theft of five bitches and 17 puppies on Friday, January 22.

“On attendance, officers found a number of dogs, some of which have been identified through microchips.

“We estimate there to have been 70 to 80 dogs at the property, with the total value reaching tens of thousands of pounds.”

Officers remain at the location today (Monday, January 25) where work is being undertaken to scan all the animals for microchips and identify their legal owners.

“We have animal welfare officers, local authority staff and South Wales Police officers at the property today, who are making their way through the whole site scanning the dogs,” DI Kelly said.

“The problem we have is that the puppies won’t have been chipped, so unless they are feeding from the mother dog while we are there, it will be very difficult to trace their owners.

One person has been arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods following the warrant at the Carmarthenshire property, and is currently in police custody. Enquiries are ongoing as officers search the site and look into recently reported dog thefts.

DI Kelly said: “We have had seven crimes reported to us in respect of dog thefts in the past six months. The officers in case will review these investigations and re-engage with the victims. As and when we find any link with dogs recovered from the two sites, we will be in contact with the potential owners.

“Although we have made an arrest, our enquiries are still at an early stage, and we would like to hear from anyone with information that might assist us.

“We also urge dog owners – and particularly breeders – to be vigilant and take all possible steps to ensure their animals are secure. A number of dogs stolen in just one incident reported to us were estimated to be worth around £40,000, which goes to show these are incredibly high value thefts.”

Anyone with information that could assist enquiries is asked to contact Dyfed-Powys Police in one of the following ways:

Online: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline

Email: 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk

Call: 101

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Paul Davies MS quits as Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd

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PAUL DAIVES MS quit as Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd this morning.

The Conservatives’ Chief Whip also quit his frontbench role.

The dramatic move comes only 24 hours after Mr Davies got the Conservative Senedd Group’s unanimous backing.

However, later yesterday (Friday, Jan 21) – as criticism poured in – the Welsh Conservatives’ Executive met. In that meeting, Constituency Chairs reported widespread disbelief and anger among the Party’s members. Conservative Party Chair, Lord Davies of Gower, received particular criticism for a lack of leadership. Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales, also attended the meeting and was left in no doubt of the strength of feeling within the Party.

In a statement issued via the Conservative Senedd media office, Mr Davies said: “I am truly sorry for my actions on the 8th and 9th December. They have damaged the trust and respect that I have built up over 14 years in the Welsh Parliament with my colleagues and the wider Conservative Party but more importantly with the people of Wales.
“Whilst using the Senedd facilities at all times my colleagues and I maintained social distancing. There was no drunk or disorderly behaviour. We did not have to be escorted out of the building as some reports have suggested. What we did was to have some alcohol with a meal we heated up in a microwave, which was a couple of glasses of wine on Tuesday and a beer on Wednesday.
I broke no actual Covid-19 regulations.

“For the last 10 months of the pandemic, I have followed the Covid-19 regulations to the letter. As with everyone across Wales, I have not seen family members or friends, I’ve not eaten at my favourite restaurants and, like you, we enjoyed a subdued Christmas compared to other years. I will continue to follow the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Regulations and I would urge everyone to play their part in defeating this virus so that we can all return to normality.

“My priority as Leader of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Welsh Parliament has always been to bring the Conservatives into government in Wales. Our main focus as the Welsh Conservatives must always be on challenging and removing a failing Labour government.

“I am grateful for the support of colleagues in the Welsh Conservative Party for their support in this difficult time, and especially to my wife Julie and my Senedd colleagues who have offered empathy, trust and advice. They have treated me with the same courtesy and decency I hope I have always extended to others.

“Over the last couple of days, I have been speaking with colleagues in the Senedd and the wider Conservative Party. Whilst they have confirmed they do not wish to see me step down, I believe that my actions are becoming a distraction from holding this failing Welsh Labour-led Government to account, not just on their rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines but from more than 20 years of their dither, delay and failure. Yesterday I indicated to the Conservative group in the Welsh Parliament that I wished to resign, but they urged me to reflect further, and we agreed to meet again on Monday. However, for the sake of my party, my health and my own conscience, I simply cannot continue in post.

“Therefore, I am stepping down as Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament with immediate effect.”

“It is for the group to decide how best to choose a new leader, but I hope that process will be seamless and speedy, and I pledge my support to whoever becomes leader.”

Darren Millar blamed ‘wildly inaccurate and unfair reports’ and said:

“There was a member of catering staff present in the tea room for a short time after my arrival on the 8th December but she did not serve me a drink, nor did I request one. In fact, I encouraged the member of staff to go home and close up the counter as it had been a long day for her. No members of catering staff were present on the 9th December and the counter was closed for the whole evening.

“While I am advised that I did not breach coronavirus regulations I am very sorry for my actions, especially given the impact of the tough restrictions that people and businesses are enduring.

“For this reason, and given that Paul Davies has resigned as Welsh Conservative Group Leader in the Senedd, I have decided to step down from my front bench role in the Welsh Parliament.

“I am cooperating fully with ongoing investigations and will continue to do so.”
Whoever replaces Paul Davies, the role is likely to an interim appointment ahead of a vote of the Party membership after the Senedd election.

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