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.
Wales confirms second positive case of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
THE CHIEF Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton, has confirmed that a second patient in Wales has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The patient is a resident in the Cardiff local authority area and has recently returned from Northern Italy, where the virus was contracted. The patient is being treated in a clinically appropriate setting.
Dr Atherton said: “I can confirm that a second patient in Wales has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
“All appropriate measures to provide care for the individual and to reduce the risk of transmission to others are being taken.
“I can also confirm that like the first case in Wales, this patient had travelled back to Wales from Northern Italy, where the virus was contracted.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to assure the public that Wales and the whole of the UK is well 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.”
To protect patient confidentiality, no further details regarding the individual will be released.
Do you know someone living with sight loss? Would you like to be able to guide them safely and confidently?
Guide Dogs Cymru is running a free training session for friends and
family members at the Selwyn Samuel Centre in Park Crescent, Llanelli,
on Wednesday February 12.
The two-hour interactive session is designed to give people a better
awareness of sight loss, plus tips on the correct way to support a vision
impaired person. The training is tailored to each individual’s needs and
covers the basics of sighted guiding. Attendees are given time to
practise their new skills on each other and discover how it feels to have
Karen Nicholas attended a friends and family training session while her
husband Malcolm was waiting to be matched with a guide dog. She said:
“Attendees did exercises in pairs, with one person wearing a blindfold
and the other guiding them. I never realised before how scary it was to
be unable to see and having to depend on someone else.
“You get lots of useful advice, and you are shown techniques to help you
guide in a busy or narrow space. It was also nice to meet the partners of
other vision impaired people, and try on special spectacles that simulate
different eye conditions.”
Malcolm, who is now the proud owner of guide dog Marcus, said: “I
found that Karen’s guiding skills improved and she became much more
aware. Undergoing a blindfold walk really brought home to her how it
feels to lose your sight.
“As a blind person I get mobility training, but that’s not the case for
friends and family. They need to know what to do, because we could be
giving them the wrong advice. I would encourage people to sign up for
free training from Guide Dogs Cymru.”
To book a place, or find out more, ring Steve Kersley on 07785 907728
or email email@example.com
No action at Cardiff Airport over virus
THERE were no checks or screening at Cardiff airport this morning (Jan 23) as international concern continues to grow about the coronavirus which has killed 17 people and infected hundreds in a central Chinese city.
A Herald journalist landing at 5:30am on a flight from Doha, said that passengers arriving from China or other Southeast Asian were not questioned or screened, despite other airports including Heathrow taking action.
The twice daily Doha flight, which was launched with the help of the Welsh Government two years ago, connects travellers from many destinations from South East Asia, including from China. A connection between Beijing and Cardiff is offered with a 10 hour stop over at Hamad International Airport in Qatar.
The outbreak of the virus is centred on the city of Wuhan. Travellers from Wuhan change at Beijing. At this time of year there is an increased number of travellers between China and the UK due to the Chinese New Year celebrations’
The Guardian reported today (Jan 23) that a sense of panic has spread in the central Chinese city of Wuhan as the city of 11 million was put on lockdown in an attempt to quarantine a deadly virus believed to have originated there.
Today, Chinese authorities banned all transport links from the sprawling city, suspending buses, the subway system, ferries and shutting the airport and train stations to outgoing passengers.
Nearby Huanggang also suspended its public bus and railway system by the end of the day.
In Wuhan, it has been reported that supermarket shelves were empty and local markets sold out of produce as residents hoarded supplies and isolated themselves at home. Petrol stations were overwhelmed as drivers stocked up on fuel, exacerbated by rumours that reserves had run out. Local residents said pharmacies had sold out of face masks.
The incubation period for the virus is said to be five days according to experts.
The Welsh Government has been asked for a comment.
Spencer Birns, Chief Commercial Officer at Cardiff Airport, told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Cardiff Airport is closely following guidance provided by the relevant authorities in relation to screening procedures for Coronavirus. Port Health advice as of 1200 on 23rd January 2020 is to operate business as usual, with no additional screening. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update our customers as required.
“The safety and security of our team and customers is our number one priority.”
A spokesperson told The Herald that Chinese nationals arriving in Cardiff on international flights are not being asked if they originated in Wuhan despite the crisis.
“We have not been told to do different to normal,” the spokesperson said.
Pictured above: Regular flights: Qatar Airways plane at Cardiff Airport this morning • Peter Sinclair from Milford Haven lives in China and taking precautions
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