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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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Health

Give someone “the best gift” this Christmas by giving blood in West Wales

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A MOTHER who needed in-the-womb blood transfusions during her pregnancy and a man who depends on regular, lifesaving blood donations are encouraging communities across Wales to give “the best gift” this Christmas by donating blood.

The Welsh Blood Service is preparing to face Winter pressures on its services and is hoping their new Christmas campaign, “the best gift” will raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and the lifesaving difference it makes.

Last December over 900 donations of blood and blood products were needed across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire to provide care to patients at Prince Philip, Withybush, Bronglais and Glangwili hospital. 

These donations play a vital role by supporting a range of treatments from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and new-born babies during childbirth.

Blood donations were needed during both pregnancies for mother of two, Shelley Parry. After her own life was saved during her first pregnancy, Shelley received several more blood transfusions directly into her womb to keep her youngest daughter alive.

Shelley explains: “Receiving blood is truly the best gift we have ever received. We’re forever indebted as a family to those who have taken the time to donate. Without the generosity of blood donors, quite simply, we wouldn’t be parents. Thanks to their selfless act, we can look forward to Christmas together as a family.

“It only takes one hour of your time to donate, if you can, please consider donating.”

Giggs and his daughter

Also supporting the campaign is blood recipient Giggs Kanias. Since birth, Giggs has received over 1,000 blood transfusions as part of his treatment for beta thalassaemia major, a severe blood disorder. Thanks to blood donors, Giggs is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family.

Giggs said: “I am so thankful to the incredible people who give blood. When I’m in hospital, I stare at the bags of blood being transfused into me and always wonder, who is the person that has helped me?

“I know the difference these people have made to my life and I’m so grateful to each and every one of them. Without their generosity, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t be a dad, or have had the opportunity to see my daughter grow up. Receiving blood is truly the best gift anyone could ever receive.”

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “For patients like Giggs, receiving blood will be the best gift they receive this Christmas. It truly is the best gift you can give.

“Blood products have a short shelf life and is needed by hospitals 365 days a year, including Christmas day, to help support patients in need, which is why we can’t stop collecting.”

The Welsh Blood Service provides lifesaving blood products to 20 hospitals across Wales and four Wales Air Ambulance aircraft for use in emergencies.

Alan continues: “It is critical the service prepares. We need to build up blood stocks ahead of a potentially challenging winter, where seasonal illnesses and Covid-19 may exacerbate the usual winter pressures faced by the NHS.

“We are reaching out to communities across Wales to ask them to make a lifesaving blood donation and give “the best gift” this festive season.”

Do something amazing this Christmas. Give someone the best gift. Give blood. If you are aged 17 or over, book to give blood at: www.wbs.wales/Xmas21 or call 0800 252 266 today.

Appointments are available in Pembrokeshire on 7 December and January 6 and 20 in Tenby, 16 December and 27 January in Crymych, 20 December and 17 January in Haverfordwest, 10 January in Letterston Village Hall and 21 January in Milford Haven. 

Appointments are available in Carmarthenshire on 10 December in Pontyberum, 29 December and 13 January in Carmarthen, 28 January in Kidwelly Community Hall, 23 and 24 December and 4, 12 and 25 January in Parc Y Scarlets and 31 January in Llandeilo.

Appointments are available in Ceredigion on 14 December in Newcastle Emlyn, 14 January in Aberaeron and 18 January in Lampeter.

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The west Wales family on standby to save lives at sea this Christmas

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VOLUNTEERING with the RNLI is a real family affair for the Barbers from Cardigan, with all four family members prepared to swap turkey and tinsel for turbulent seas this Christmas.  The RNLI is calling on the public to support them and the thousands of other volunteer crew on call by giving to the charity’s Christmas appeal.

For mum Amanda and daughter Madeleine, 18, it will be their very first Christmas on call. Both have followed in the footsteps of proud dad Tony who has volunteered on the crew of Cardigan RNLI for the past 12 years and son Leo, 20, who joined the RNLI following his 17th Birthday. The family will be spending their Christmas Day at nearby ‘New Life Church’, ensuring those who are in need of a meal on 25 December have food and company. However, they will have the perfect excuse to leave the washing up should they all have to leave in a hurry to respond to an emergency at sea.

Later in the afternoon, they plan to get together and enjoy a Christmas meal at home, but with a watchful eye on their pagers.

Madeleine says: ‘I realise our Christmas may not be a traditional one and to my friends it seems strange that we may all have to dash down to the station whatever time of day or night the call may come. I don’t really give it a second thought; I’m actually looking forward to being on call for the first time this Christmas and being able to help someone in need.

‘Previously when the pager goes off, dad, Leo and I have left mum at home. She’s so proud of us all but obviously is filled with apprehension as to when we may be back. We’re thrilled she’s decided to join us too and volunteer as part of the shore crew.

‘Being part of the RNLI is something Leo and I have always wanted to do as soon as we turned 17. Hearing dad talk about successful shouts has really motivated us all to want to get involved. We’re so thankful for all the support we have from the community and it is humbling to think people give so generously to enable us to do what we do.’

I would like to thank everyone in advance who gives towards our Christmas appeal this year.

‘This year, I hope people can do what they can to support the Christmas campaign and help the RNLI to save every one.’

The family run a boat trip business not too far away from the station, which means they are all ideally placed to be close by should the pagers sound. In the winter months, Madeleine works opposite the station at a local café, Crwst, who are very supportive allowing her to leave and attend shouts whilst at work.

Amanda says: ‘With the rest of the family on the crew, I know how vital, challenging, yet rewarding volunteering with the RNLI is. After many years of watching Tony run from the house at a moment’s notice and in the years that followed Leo, then Madeleine; I no longer had a reason not to join them. Now, rather than waiting and wondering what the outcome of a shout is, I can be on hand at the station supporting them and the rest of the team together, serving the mission of saving lives at sea. This Christmas if the pagers go off at least I won’t be left home alone holding the turkey!’

Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period. But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

With thousands of volunteers around the UK and Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824.

Matt Crofts, RNLI Lifesaving Manager for Wales says: ‘With the increase in staycations and more people than ever heading to the coast, it has been an exceptionally busy year for our crews.

‘Even at Christmas, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather’s at its worst and lives are on the line.

‘We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. We hope that this year’s Christmas appeal will show people just how tough it can be, but also that with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.’

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Health

Council makes available wellbeing and mental health support for social care providers

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The programme will run until March 2022

IN RECOGNITION of the important work of the social care sector and impact of the Covid pandemic on social care providers and their staff, Ceredigion County Council has made available a programme of wellbeing and mental health support sessions.

The programme consists of Wellbeing and Mental health Awareness, Mental Health First Aid (Adults and Youth) and also offers facilitated support sessions.

The programme of events will run from December through to March 2022.

Any social care provider, carer or personal assistant can request more information or book a place on these sessions by emailing Dysgu@ceredigion.gov.uk

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