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Updated Covid-19 testing strategy for Wales published

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The original testing strategy was published in July 2020 and has been revised in light of our greater understanding of the virus, the development of new testing technology and the roll-out of our vaccination programme. The new strategy also expands our testing approach to include more regular testing for NHS and care home staff and patients in hospitals.

A community testing framework is also being published today which builds on the pilot schemes in Merthyr Tydfil and Lower Cynon to test asymptomatic people to stop the spread of the virus.

Today’s revised strategy focuses on the following priority areas;

·       Test to diagnose – Testing patients on admission to hospital, patients who develop symptoms while in hospital, asymptomatic in-patients five days after admission and planned admissions to protect patients who are at increased risk.

·       Test to safeguard – Regular asymptomatic testing for NHS and care home staff, supported living staff, staff working with vulnerable people in special schools, domiciliary care staff and prison staff.

·       Test to find – Continuing to test anyone who thinks they have symptoms to identify to isolate Covid-19 cases in the community, reduce the transmission of infection, support contact tracing, protect vulnerable individuals and help to slow or stop the spread of the disease.

·       Test to maintain – Regular testing of the workforce in various settings to find cases and exploring whether testing of asymptomatic contacts could allow people to safely remain at work or schools instead of isolating for 10 days. We are currently piloting and evaluating this approach.

·       Test to enable – Considering how testing might work alongside vaccination to enable people with a negative result or those who demonstrate the required level of antibodies in their system to travel internationally, attend work or cultural or sporting events or meet family and friends.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“Testing has continued to play a pivotal role in our overall approach to preventing the transmission of Covid-19 across Wales.

“Since the last strategy was published, new testing technologies have demonstrated it is possible to test at far greater scale, frequency and speed than ever before. Testing remains important as we roll out the vaccine. Once vaccinated, it is still critical that people continue to follow the guidance and if showing symptoms, get tested.

“Today I’m setting out our revised approach so we can continue to safeguard our most vulnerable people and protect the NHS. The strategy also looks ahead at how we can use testing as an appropriate and effective safeguard alongside the vaccine as we return to normality.”

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Health

Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre

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Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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GP practices thanked for Covid-19 vaccine efforts

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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.”

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Asbestos Related Diseases in Wales – a call out to readers for their story

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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 editor@herald.email with your story.

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