FIRST MINISTER Mark Drakeford last night set out Wales’ aim to offer all eligible adults an appointment for a booster vaccine by the end of December.
Urgent plans are being put in place to further accelerate the booster programme as new evidence has emerged showing two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are not enough to offer protection against the new omicron variant.
But the booster dose is vital in improving protection against the fast-moving variant.
In a televised message to Wales, the First Minister said: “We must be prepared for omicron cases to rise quickly and very steeply – just as they have in other parts of the UK.
“We are still learning about this new form of coronavirus. All the information we have tells us we are facing a very serious situation. By the end of the month, omicron will have become the dominant form of the virus in Wales, bringing a new wave of infections and illness.
“This could then translate into a large number of people needing hospital treatment just at a time when the NHS is already under significant pressure. The Welsh Government will do everything we can to protect people’s health and keep Wales safe.
“New evidence has emerged about the effectiveness of our vaccines against omicron. Two doses of the vaccine is simply not enough to give the level of protection against the infection we all need. We have already increased the speed of the roll-out of our booster programme. New clinics have been opened and operating hours extended. Urgent efforts are now underway to accelerate the programme even further so we can offer all eligible adults an appointment by the end of this year if possible.
“Please make getting a booster a priority, as it is the single of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against coronavirus and this new variant.”
The First Minister added: “None of us wanted to hear the news of a new omicron variant. After almost two long years of the pandemic, we had all hoped that we could put coronavirus behind us this Christmas. Unfortunately, we are once again facing a serious and worsening situation. But, we have faced challenges many times during this pandemic.
“We can once again pull together to look out for each other – for friends, family and neighbours – to protect each other and keep ourselves safe and well. We have already taken some steps to increase protections in Wales and we may need to take some further steps to keep Wales safe.”
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “Whilst it is encouraging that all indications show Omicron is a milder form of the virus, it is more transmissible and it’s clear booster jabs are a vital defence against the variant. Therefore, it is essential that government infrastructure is geared up to deliver boosters on a war-like scale.
“The system clearly needs to be modernised to introduce more dynamism and flexibility like online booking systems, especially considering the numerous questions over how normalised regular jabs are going to become.
“After heeding our calls for walk-in centres and reactivation of the volunteer army, Labour’s Health Minister should now extend the hours during which people are vaccinated, making greater use of community pharmacists, reopening mass vaccination centres, and prioritising boosters over jabs for teenagers.
“We do not need more restrictions if a critical mass of people get their jabs. There is a duty on all those eligible to get their vaccination and the Labour Government has a responsibility to deliver the rollout rapidly. A free society and an open economy depend on it.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats welcomed the accelerated vaccine booster targets but have also called for greater support to be provided to the hospitality industry over the winter.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated: “I welcome the Welsh Government’s new target to offer every adult a booster vaccine by the end of December, vaccinations remain the best way out of this crisis.
“However, we would also like to see more financial support offered to hospitality firms being hit by reduced footfall due to concerns over Omicron. Despite no lockdown being in place pubs and restaurants are concerned about a drop off in trade during what is usually their busiest time of year, following fresh work-from-home guidance.
“Firms have already paid for stock for the Christmas period in the wake of supply chain disruptions. Much of this can’t be stored for the future, and even the small proportion that can will cause immediate cash flow disruption in already struggling businesses.”
GMB Union said it encourages everyone to get their booster – but says frontline workers need a pay boost too.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said: “There has been no respite for our frontline workers throughout the covid pandemic.
“They’ve put themselves in harm’s way to serve the public – particularly when governments and employers failed to ensure the provision of proper PPE and testing to keep them safe at work.
“GMB members know the importance of keeping safe and well, that’s why we’re encouraging everyone across the four nations to get their booster.
“But as governments, yet again, ask our NHS, social care and key frontline workers to undertake another huge national effort, they are still not paying these workers properly.
“Against the backdrop of covid, there is a cost-of-living crisis, key services face an understaffing crisis and the people delivering them are enduring a wage crisis.
“That’s not good enough and it’s got to be confronted.
“Our key workers must be paid properly – it’s the least they deserve for everything they are doing for all of us.”
Give blood, save lives – Do something memorable this National Blood Donor Week
THE WELSH BLOOD SERVICE is urging people to consider becoming blood donors to help save lives this National Blood Donor Week.
Over 350 blood donations are needed every day across Wales. The donations play a vital role in saving lives by supporting a range of treatments, from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and newborn babies during childbirth.
The Welsh Blood Service supports 20 hospitals across the country and relies on donations from blood, platelet and bone marrow donors to help patients in need.
Supporting the call is 65-year-old Howard Provis, one of Wales’ longest serving donors with nearly 50 years of dedication to the service. Howard has been donating platelets since the age of 18 and has recently made his 1,000 th donation which has helped save the lives of thousands of people across Wales.
Encouraging more people to come forward following his own experience, Howard explains, “With a background in first aid and first responding, I have seen people in many situations that have required blood. For me being able to give blood or platelets has given some of those people a second chance to live or spend precious extra time with their families and friends.
“Tomorrow, it could be me that needs a blood or platelet donation, or my wife, family or a friend. The thought that my donation today could potentially save someone’s life tomorrow has inspired me to keep supporting the Welsh Blood Service.”
Speaking of Howard’s achievement Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service explains, “Howard is one of only a handful of donors to reach this incredible milestone, and his donations will have helped patients in need from hospitals across the whole of Wales.
“His commitment to helping others is truly inspirational, and we hope his story encourages others to start their own lifesaving journey this National Blood Donor Week.”
National Blood Donor Week is an opportunity for blood services across the UK to raise awareness of the lifesaving importance of blood donation and encourage those who have never donated to give it a go.
The week also incorporates World Blood Donor Day (June 14), a day of celebration and thanks to the thousands of people who give up their time freely to donate and help people in need.
Alan continues, “We must say a huge thank you to every single donor who has supported us over the past two years. It has been a challenging period, but the generosity of people across Wales has been unwavering.
“As our Service works towards a post-covid collection service, we hope more people will step forward and join our lifesaving team. Following changes to UK donation guidelines, more people than ever before can safely donate, which means there has never been a better time to give it a go.”
June 14 is also the one-year anniversary of the landmark changes introduced following the recommendations made by the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group.
These pioneering changes to donation rules have meant that all donors, regardless of gender, are now asked a set of questions, meaning that more people than ever before, including those from the LGBTQ+ community are potentially eligible to donate.
You can book your first or next blood donation appointment by visiting www.wbs.wales/nbdw22 and if you are 17-30, you can also consider signing up to the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
For those who cannot donate, you can still become a Welsh Blood Service supporter.
Sharing their social media posts, encouraging your friends, family and colleagues to raise awareness of the importance of donating blood, platelets and bone marrow.
To learn more about donating blood, platelets and bone marrow, or to book, visit www.welshblood.org.uk.
Welsh residents unaware of the early signs of dehydration according to new resarch
PEOPLE living in Wales are unaware of the five most common signs of dehydration, according to research from Aqua Pura.
Even though more than half (55%) of residents believe they know the symptoms of dehydration, the new research reveals many don’t know the early warning signs.
More than two thirds (65%) don’t think having bad breath/a dry mouth is a symptom of dehydration, while half (50%) don’t think dark coloured urine is a tell tail sign. In reality, both are early warning signs which shouldn’t be ignored.
Early signs which residents in Wales don’t think are signs of dehydration (but actually are) include (% of survey sample):
· Bad breath/dry mouth (65%)
· Feeling dizzy (53%)
· Dark coloured urine (50%)
· Fatigue (48%)
· Headache (42%)
“Dehydration can lead to a number of health problems such as constipation, muscle tiredness, urinary tract infections and headaches, so it’s concerning to see that so many people are unaware of the early signs. It’s known that having a good level of hydration can help to maintain higher energy levels, better weight control and faster thinking.
“As we approach the summer months and temperatures across the country rise, it’s important that people take the time to drink more to keep their fluid levels topped up and avoid any unwanted health issues. This fluid can in fact come from a variety of drinks and foods, but plain water is a great calorie and sugar free option to ensure you stay hydrated,” comments hydration expert, Dr Stuart Galloway of the University of Stirling.
From fizzy drinks and fresh orange juice, to tea and coffee the research reveals residents of Wales are unaware that drinks other than plain water can contribute to hydration levels.
In fact, almost two fifths (17%) of those surveyed don’t think that sparkling water contributes, let alone fizzy drinks.
Top 10 drinks residents of the Wales don’t think help with hydration
1. Wine (68%)
2. Beer/larger (66%)
3. Cider (64%)
4. Coffee (53%)
5. Hot chocolate (47%)
6. Fizzy drinks (44%)
7. Fresh juice (21%)
8. Tea (25%)
9. Sparkling water (17%)
10. Dilutable juice (13%)
“Many will be surprised to see drinks like wine and coffee on the list, as they’re often thought to dehydrate you. Alcoholic drinks will lead to dehydration, but only if you drink more than one or two servings. A similar situation occurs with caffeinated drinks, for example, a black coffee is mostly boiling water so this makes up part of your daily water intake. The dehydration effect of caffeine starts to kick in after around a litre of regular coffee, up until then it can be classed as part of your daily intake of water. However, often the best and healthiest way to ensure you’re getting your daily intake of water is by drinking plain still or sparkling water,” adds Dr Stuart.
Even though drinking water is the easiest, and healthiest, way to get to the recommended daily amount of water, the nationwide survey reveals almost one in 10 (7%) admit they don’t drink any water at all. Those in the baby boomer generation, aged between 55 – 73, are the most likely to not drink any water at all, with one in seven (14%) saying this is the case.
Dr Stuart’s top tips of staying hydrated this summer:
· Be aware of the signs of dehydration such as dry mouth and dark coloured urine
· Alongside the fluids you drink, choose foods such as fruits and vegetables which have a high-water content as this all helps to keep you hydrated throughout the day without you even thinking about it
· The hotter you get, the quicker you’ll get dehydrated so make sure you’re dressing for the weather and don’t spend too much time out in the sun
· If you’re going out for the day, or even just spending an afternoon at the shops, make sure you take some water with you to stay hydrated on the go
“It’s our mission here at Aqua Pura to keep the nation hydrated – especially over the summer when more people are out and about, exploring their local area. The good news is that it’s easy to keep hydrated simply by drinking water – something that is plentiful here in the UK thanks to our climate. It means we’re all able to enjoy fresh water from the hills – in our case from the Lake District – to help keep us healthy.
“In a bid to help people stay hydrated, we’ve created a hydration calculator so Brits can work out how much water they should be drinking this summer. We hope this will help people to truly understand how much water they should be drinking,” adds Kelly Hall, Aqua Pura.
To calculate how much you should be drinking, visit www.aqua-pura.com.
Childhood hepatitis outbreak – four more cases in Wales under investigation
PUBLIC HEALTH WALES is investigating four more cases of acute hepatitis among children.
Health officials have identified 17 cases in Wales, an increase of four cases since the last update on 6 May.
UK Health Security Agency launched an investigation in April after hospitals reported a rise in cases of acute childhood hepatitis with no known cause.
Typically, UK hospitals see about 20 cases a year that are not caused by common hepatitis viruses, but cases this year are nearly 10 times higher.
A number of hypotheses are being investigated and the information gathered so far increasingly suggests that the rise in these cases may be linked to adenovirus infection, with other factors likely to be playing a role.
Dr Ardiana Gjini, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said:
“Hepatitis can cause jaundice and inflammation of the liver, so parents and carers should be aware of the symptoms of jaundice – including skin with a yellow tinge which is most easily seen in the whites of the eyes.
“We are reminding the public to familiarise themselves with this and other symptoms of hepatitis in light of these UK cases.
“In addition, the importance of maintaining normal hygiene routines, especially ensuring that children wash their hands properly, help to reduce the spread of many common infections.
“Parents and carers are reminded that they should keep their children away from school and seek advice from a GP or an appropriate specialist if their child experiences any symptoms linked with hepatitis.”
Hepatitis symptoms include:
- dark urine
- pale, grey-coloured poo
- itchy skin
- yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- muscle and joint pain
- a high temperature
- feeling and being sick
- feeling unusually tired all the time
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
Regular updates on the ongoing investigation into the cases in the UK can be found on the UKHSA website.
Business1 week ago
M&S opticians opens its doors in Llanelli Parc Trostre
Sport1 week ago
Gascoigne entertains Llanelli
News1 week ago
Cocaine dealer caught by sniffer dogs at entrance to Escape festival, court hears
Business1 week ago
Public advised to avoid rail travel as biggest strike in 30 years about to start
Crime2 days ago
Four men fined £6,000 for ‘barbaric’ illegal foul hook fishing
News2 weeks ago
Restoration underway of listed railway station building in Llanelli
Community2 weeks ago
Jenny will tackle Ironman Swansea in aid of charity close to her heart
Community2 weeks ago
RNLI releases vital beach safety advice in the South Wales as temperatures set to rise