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Call for people across Wales to help global fight against Covid-19

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RESEARCHERS urge people to share experiences through a simple survey which will influence how future outbreaks are tackled as concerns grow about spread of new strain

People across Wales are being urged to share their experiences of Covid-19 as concerns about a new strain of the virus grow.

Scientists working to combat coronavirus are keen to capture details from the region which they say could influence the global effort to tackle the pandemic.

Researchers are particularly keen to speak to anyone who has tested for the disease – whether the result was positive or negative – as they work to understand how concerns about infections have manifested locally and internationally.

They are urging people to take part in the IQVIA COVID-19 Active Research Experience (CARE) survey, the results of which will be used internationally to further the fight against the pandemic.

Anyone aged 18 or over who has been tested for Covid-19 can do so by going to www.helpstopcovid19.com.

Tim Sheppard, who is leading IQVIA’s work on the scheme, said: “News of this latest strain of the virus has really highlighted the importance of getting the greatest possible picture of how the pandemic is affecting people locally and further afield, which is why we’re asking for support from across Wales.

“We believe the insight and experiences of people locally could prove invaluable as we try to build a full picture of all of the factors affecting those who have had – or have suspected they had – coronavirus across the UK.

“This information will be vital in not just influencing how Covid-19 is tackled now, but in preventing further outbreaks not just in the UK but on a global scale. The difference people can make by taking just a few minutes to fill in our simple survey is great.

“We really do need the experiences of people in Wales to be reflected in our findings. The perspective they can bring is of huge interest to us.”

Researchers are examining all of the factors involved in the pandemic across the UK.

They are investigating how personal and social circumstances, ethnicity, age, type of employment and underlying health conditions all impact upon how people have been affected by the illness.

In addition, IQVIA CARE is seeking to establish the role of vitamins, herbal medicines and prescription medicines in symptom relief, or preventing recurrence of COVID- 19 related illnesses.

Survey participants can – if they wish – consent to further follow-up, including taking part in additional clinical research, such as COVID-19 clinical trials of potential treatments that may ease symptoms – and potentially save lives.

Mr Sheppard, IQVIA’S Senior Vice President, added: “We want to help identify the most effective treatments and understand any other factors that help lessen the toll of this virus.”

IQVIA CARE is an international public research survey, led by IQVIA, a global leader in clinical trials and real world evidence research. IQVIA is also delivering the UK COVID-19 treatment clinical trial, ACCORD, involving UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the National Institute for Health Research and partners in the pharma, biotech sector and the UK Government.

The IQVIA CARE survey aims to:

  • Capture COVID-19 in the UK community and record symptom severity and progression over time.
  • Provide understanding of individuals at highest risk of developing serious consequences from exposure to COVID-19, for example, the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Communities and the elderly.
  • Help understand the role of personal and social circumstances, non-prescription and prescription medications, and to learn more about whether herbal remedies, vitamins, and alternative medicines make the COVID-19 symptoms better or worse.
  • Assess the impact of self-isolation and the UK lockdown strategy and crucially provide valuable data to inform the exit strategy on easing lockdown, and the National Health Service (NHS) response to any second wave of the virus.
  • Volunteers who join the IQVIA CARE survey can, in complete confidence, share basic demographic information, any current symptoms, and some medical history. They will thereafter be periodically prompted to provide updated information about any symptoms and diagnosis status in order to create a worldwide picture of virus progression over time.

IQVIA will apply decades of privacy protection expertise in handling personal health information for research purposes, employing a wide range of methods to secure, manage, and report information responsibly. IQVIA CARE received UK Ethics Approval and will employ a variety of processes, safeguards and controls in connection with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and other regulatory requirements.

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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Lifeboat Operations Manager in New Year’s Honours list

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Richard Llewelyn Griffiths the Lifeboat Operations Manager of Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station has been recognised for services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Wales.

He has been awarded a BEM.

Having served as a RNLI volunteer for an impressive 47 years, it is his role in the last 21 years as Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) which has earned him the most respect.

His local knowledge has provided reassurance to casualties and crews alike when launching in difficult conditions.

His operational decision-making and station management skills are outstanding, and he is greatly valued by crew, management, volunteers and coastal personnel both past and present.

He has contributed greatly towards Aberystwyth being recognised as a ‘benchmark’ Inshore Lifeboat Station, serving as an example to the whole institution of how a station could and should be run.

Richard said: ‘I’m very surprised but honoured to be receiving a BEM – the news still doesn’t feel real. My father was awarded a BEM in 1988 and I still have his medal at home, so to be awarded one myself for my work with the lifeboats is a great privilege. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of characters during my time with the RNLI – both at Borth and Aberystwyth – and continue to volunteer alongside a good crew today.’

Nationally, a total of six Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised for their vital role in helping the charity save lives at sea through the New Year’s Honours.

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘Following a challenging 2020, it is particularly pleasing to see these RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year’s Honours list. Together, they personify the RNLI’s ‘One Crew’ ethos, representing the variety and diversity of roles from a former full-time mechanic to shore crew and fundraisers to station managers, who collectively deliver a shared vision to save every one. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, congratulations to you all for being recognised for your longstanding service, hard work and selfless commitment. And thank you for everything you do to help the RNLI save lives at sea.’

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Temporary closure of Minor Injuries Unit in Cardigan confirmed

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AS PART of its response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hywel Dda University Health Board says it has temporarily closed the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in Cardigan in order to redeploy clinical staff to support the COVID 19 response within Ceredigion.

The MIU, which is based in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre and normally operates from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, will temporarily close with immediate effect. The situation will be under constant review and normal service will be resumed when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

In the meantime, minor injuries help and advice is available as follows:

– visit the 111 symptom checker (https://111.wales.nhs.uk/)
– visit your local pharmacy
– call 111
– please do NOT self-present to the GP reception in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre as they do not deal with minor injuries.
– for emergency care the A+E departments are as follows:
· Glangwili Hospital A+E Carmarthen SA32 2AF
· Bronglais Hospital A+E Aberystwyth SY23 1ER
· Withybush Hospital A+E Haverfordwest SA61 2PZ

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