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.”
A reminder to residents and visitors as the number of Delta cases increase
CEREDIGION is starting to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Ceredigion and across Wales over recent days. The Delta variant has been detected in Ceredigion; a different variant which causes a wider range symptoms than previously, the Council has said.
We are becoming increasingly concerned about this increase; the current rate per 100 thousand of the population is 33 and this is likely to increase further over the coming days. This is a significant rise, considering at the beginning of June the rate per 100 thousand of the population was as low as 2.8 per 100 thousand.
The new variant of COVID-19 is in all parts of Wales. It spreads faster and we need to be more vigilant and ensure that we follow the most recent guidelines which are as follows:
· Only members of your extended household can enter your home.
· Face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that are open (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), and on public transport and in taxis.
· People should try and work from home if they can.
· People should maintain social distancing, including outdoors, and don’t mix with too many different groups of people.
· People should wash their hands regularly and follow other advice on hygiene.
· People must self-isolate when told to do so by NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect or as soon as you develop symptoms
· Book a test if you experience any of the symptoms.
Symptoms of the Delta variant of coronavirus include a headache, followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever. We are urging people who feel unwell with ANY of these symptoms to book a test, be extra cautious, social distance, and maintain good hand hygiene.
As everybody is making the most of a summer with more relaxed restrictions than at the start of the year, it’s still vital for everyone to remember we’re still battling this virus and trying to prevent the threat of a third wave. Limiting your contacts is essential for keeping the infection rate down and it’s how we will ultimately protect each and every one of us.
In Ceredigion, over 68% have received the first vaccine and over 44% have now received the second vaccine. A first dose of the vaccine is now available to everyone over 18. The second vaccine significantly improves your immunity, so it is important that you get your second dose to complete your course of vaccinations.
Getting both vaccine doses and following COVID-19 guidelines will protect us all against the new variant. Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDdUHB) are now running walk-in clinics for first and second dose vaccination from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 June. More information on the HDdUHB website.
Together, we can keep Ceredigion safe.
Coronavirus cases in Wales still lowest in UK says Health Minister
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.
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