WALES continues to have the lowest rate of coronavirus cases in the UK, Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan said today.
The minister said the number of confirmed cases in Wales is currently 9.3 per 100,000 people.
Eluned Morgan said: “The number of people in hospital with coronavirus is at the lowest level since the start of the pandemic. We have recently seen a period of 10 days where no new deaths from the virus were recorded – sadly Public Health Wales reported one death yesterday.
“These achievements reflect the hard work of people throughout Wales to keep themselves and their families safe.
“Over recent weeks we have however seen very troubling developments in relation to the so-called India variant of concern – or as the World Health Organisation has re-named it, the delta variant. This is further proof that coronavirus has not gone away.
“We have been carefully monitoring this new variant, which appears to be spreading in many parts of England. We have identified a growing number of cases here in Wales, including a large cluster of cases in Conwy which is under close investigation.
“This delta variant has the potential to become the next dominant strain of the virus in the UK. We hope we can contain cases and prevent this variant spreading further but we expect the number of cases in Wales will continue to increase.
“Whilst the public health situation therefore remains good in Wales, the delta variant brings a new level of uncertainty. It was in this context the most recent review of the coronavirus restrictions took place on 3 June.
“Whilst Wales is moving to alert level one as previously signalled, we will now do this in a phased way.
“Changes to the regulations from 7 June therefore focused on easing restriction on outdoor events and activities. The risk of transmission is much lower outdoors and these changes will allow people to take advantage of the summer.”
Up to 30 people can now meet outdoors, including in private gardens, outdoor hospitality and public places.
Larger outdoor organised gatherings and events for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated can also now take place. This includes concerts, football matches and sporting activities, like organised running groups. All organisers must undertake a full risk assessment and put in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including social distancing.
Finally, provision now allows for extended household to be made up of three households who can meet and have contact indoors. This is an increase from two households previously.
We will consider further changes to the regulations on indoor activity later in the month, if public health conditions allow. In line with the coronavirus control plan, at alert level one this would mean the rule of six would apply for meeting indoors in private homes and in holiday accommodation.
We will also consider increasing numbers for indoor organised gatherings and restarting indoor events.
This phased approach will provide time for more data on the impact of the delta variant to become available. It will also allow time for more people to be vaccinated, which remains our best route out of the pandemic.
I am extremely grateful to Health Board vaccination teams, local partners and the many volunteers across the country for the incredible progress of our vaccination programme.
At this rate, and subject to supply, we expect to have offered all adults 18 and over their first dose by early next week and to have hit our 3rd milestone of an uptake of 75% in all of the age ranges by the end of June, a month earlier than expected. In reality, the percentage of people who have taken up their offer of a vaccine is far higher, which was always our aim.
We are currently recognised as the world Leader amongst countries over 1 million inhabitants. We have vaccinated more than 86.5% of the adult population with their first dose and nearly half have completed the two-dose course.
Yesterday I published an update to our COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy.
The updated strategy looks back at what has been achieved to date and sets out preparations for what comes next, potentially including a booster for our most vulnerable citizens and a vaccine for children and young people. We are also planning to reoffer the vaccine to those who did not take up the original offer. The roll out of second doses will also continue.
To underpin this delivery, an online system will be established in the Autumn to allow people to book appointments convenient for them. This system could potentially be used for other vaccinations moving forward.
Wales’ successful Test, Trace, Protect service was established a year ago. The Welsh Government has allocated an additional £32m to health boards and local authorities to extend contact tracing until the end of March 2022. This increases the total Welsh Government investment in contact tracing this financial year to £92m.
On 2 June we also published a refreshed Test, Trace, Protect strategy setting out how the service will adapt and respond to the pandemic in the months ahead. This includes strengthening and enhance the tracing of variants of concern, as well as the management and quarantine of people returning to Wales from red and amber-list countries.
On 20 May I set-out plans for a £100m investment to kick-start the health and care system’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This money will provide for new equipment, staff, technology and ways of working to help health boards increase capacity and cut waiting times.
As we begin resuming non-emergency care following the pandemic we have an opportunity to create a health and care system fit for the future.
Following the three week review of the restrictions on international travel, we are following the same traffic-light approach to international travel as the rest of the UK.
From today Portugal has been moved from green to the amber list. This decision follows increased concern in the spread of variants, including a mutation of the Delta variant, and the risk posed of bringing these back to the UK if people are not required to quarantine.
Seven countries have also been added to the red list, including Egypt and Sri Lanka.
I have today described some of the most recent developments in our ongoing efforts to tackle coronavirus. It remains vital we continue to work together to keep each other safe and to keep Wales safe.
Helping to deliver clinical services to the people of Ceredigion
HYWEL Dda University Health Board (UHB) has published its Research and Innovation Strategy, which will help deliver clinical services to the people of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
The strategy, which is part of Hywel Dda UHB’s long-term health and care strategy, A healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well, seeks to improve the profile, quality and quantity of research and innovation activity within Hywel Dda UHB.
Additionally, while the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impact on communities across mid and west Wales, it demonstrated the vital link between research, innovation, and decision making at every level of the health care system. This includes the immediate importance of translating research and innovation into health benefits.
The Research and Innovation Strategy will focus on setting the direction and committing to the delivery of practical steps to move the health board’s research, development, and innovation agenda forward. This will be achieved through four strategic goals:
- Improve the quality and impact of activities.
- Invest in staff and facilities to encourage the development of a virtuous funding cycle.
- Grow research and innovation activity in areas of strength and opportunity.
- Develop strong and effective partnerships with academic, healthcare, industry and research organisations.
Leighton Phillips, Director for Research, Innovation and University Partnerships for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Our vision is to produce and collaborate in high quality health and care research and innovation, to improve services and health outcomes for our public, patients and staff. This strategy details how we aim to improve our research and innovation capabilities, which will have a direct benefit on the communities we serve in the three counties.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how critical research and innovation is to deal with the worst public health crisis of our time. Excellent research and innovation contribute to improved health outcomes, because it embeds a culture of the highest standards of health and care delivery, underpinned by evidence and by attracting high quality employees.
“Implementing this strategy will be done in collaboration with a wide variety of partners, from our existing funders, local authorities and Welsh Government, to private sector organisations and industry, and the health board’s clinical and managerial teams.”
If you wish to review the strategy or discuss it further with the research and innovation team, please email HDd.Research-Development@wales.nhs.uk.
Council provides feminine hygiene products to local communities
CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL in partnership with local community groups and organisations, and through funding from Welsh Government’s Period Dignity Scheme, are ensuring that women and girls have access to feminine hygiene products.
A number of local groups and organisations will receive a stock of feminine hygiene products which are available to be distributed to individuals facing hardship within our communities.
Ceredigion County Council’s aim is to ensure that tampons, sanitary towels, or sustainable alternatives are available for women and girls from low income households in Ceredigion who cannot afford them.
Local community support groups and organisations have a wealth of knowledge of their local areas, and will be able to support those in need through ensuring they receive these products at this particularly challenging time.
To find out which groups or organisations hold a stock in your local area, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about other grants and assistance available to those facing hardship, go to the benefits section on the Council’s website: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/coronavirus-covid-19/benefits/.
Bronglais Hospital has welcomed a new Consultant Colorectal Surgeon
A NEW consultant colorectal surgeon has been welcomed into a new post at Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth, meaning that patients will no longer have to travel long distances to receive operations.
After seeing a job advert for his posting early on in 2020, Mr Sebastiani came to visit the hospital and later joined Hywel Dda University Health Board in January 2021 as part of the clinical team at the Ceredigion hospital.
Mr Sebastiani said: “I was really impressed with the quality of all of the professionals working in Bronglais Hospital. Also, after hearing that the patients had to travel for over an hour in order to have their cancer operations, I felt that I could help them to receive colorectal service locally.”
Maria Battle, Chair at Hywel Dda Health Board said: “It is our pleasure to welcome Mr Sebastiani to the Team at Bronglais. We are delighted he has joined us. This is a big step forward for services in Mid Wales. We are fortunate to have such a strong team and Mr Sebastiani will contribute to providing a more comprehensive and united service.”
Originally from Rome, Italy, Mr Sebastiani studied medicine at the University of La Sapienza in the city where he graduated with full marks in 2008. He then started his surgical training in Rome, rotating between a university and rural hospital.
Through the Italian training programme, which allowed a trainee to spend 18 months abroad, Mr Sebastiani spent six months in Belgium working in one of the biggest centres in Europe for laparoscopic liver resection and liver transplant. In moving to the UK for his final year in training and qualifying in 2015, he became a middle grade in colorectal surgery in Luton and more recently in 2019 he moved to Plymouth for a fellowship in laparoscopic colorectal surgery where he worked as a locum consultant.
“I liked the idea of helping to reinstate the service and I believe there is incredible potential for development here at Bronglais, and I wanted to be part of it.”
Mr Sebastiani moved to Ceredigion county in December 2020 with his wife, also from Rome, who is a nurse also working at Bronglais Hospital.
“We like it here. It is small and quiet, but in a nice way. There is the sea and the mountains, so plenty of things to do and places to go.”
Philip Kloer, Medical Director and Deputy CEO at Hywel Dda Health Board said: “We are delighted to welcome Mr Sebastiani here at Bronglais. We have first class facilities at Bronglais Hospital which are improving all the time and Mr Sebastiani’s knowledge and experience will help us to continue strengthening our acute surgical service for our patients at the hospital.”
For regular updates and roles which may interest you or someone you know, follow the University Health Board: on Facebook and Twitter @HywelDdaJobs and on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/company/hywel-dda-university-health-board, or by visiting: https://hduhb.nhs.wales/jobs/working-for-us/
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