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Self-isolation period cut to five days in Wales

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PEOPLE who test positive for Covid-19 will be able to leave self-isolation after five full days if they have two negative lateral flow tests, Health Minister Eluned Morgan confirmed today,

The two consecutive negative lateral flow tests must be taken on days five and six of the isolation period.

The changes are being made after a thorough examination of the evidence from Public Health Wales and bring Wales into line with changes made elsewhere in the UK.

They will come into effect from 28 January, at the same time as Wales is expected to complete the move to alert level zero.

A shorter self-isolation period will support public services and businesses by reducing pressures on the workforce through Covid-related staff absences.

Financial support through the Self-Isolation Support Scheme will return to the original payment rate of £500 in recognition of the shorter isolation period.  People who need support with essentials such as shopping and pharmacy goods will be able to access help through their local authority and voluntary organisations. 

Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said:

“Self-isolation is one of the most effective ways of preventing the onward spread of this virus and disrupting its transmission. But self-isolating for long periods can have a negative impact on our mental health and can be damaging for our public services and the wider economy.

“After carefully reviewing all the available evidence, we believe that testing on days five and six together with five full days of isolation will have the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period.

“But it is really important everyone self-isolates and uses lateral flow tests in the way advised to ensure they protect others from the risk of infection.

“The response from the public has been outstanding in Wales throughout the pandemic and we want to thank everyone for working with us to keep Wales safe.

“The booster jab has lessened the likelihood of severe cases of the virus and hospitalisation, so I encourage anyone who is yet to have their vaccine to take up the offer.”

If a person is currently self-isolating as a positive case, or tests positive for Covid-19, they must self-isolate for five full days and should take a lateral flow test on day five and another test 24 hours later on day six.

If both results are negative, it is likely they are not infectious and can stop isolating.

But anyone who tests positive on either day five or day six must continue to self-isolate until they have two negative tests taken 24 hours apart or until day 10, whichever comes first.

This change reflects the latest evidence from Public Health Wales. Guidance on self-isolation for those working in more sensitive areas such as health and care will issue shortly. 

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru spokesperson on health and care, said: “This is undoubtedly good news, but it’s now important to understand what needs to happen to bring this self-isolation period down to zero days – how is Welsh Government assessing this, what conversations are happening, and what criteria will need to be met for this important milestone to be reached?

“In the meantime, we must continue to see effective measures to push down community transmission further and to create more long-term resilience, including more action on clean air in schools, encouraging greater vaccine take-up, and ensuring our health and care services are given the support and resources they need.”

Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “With the booster jab rollout so advanced, the need to keep public services staffed, and the increasing desire to move to a point where we live with the virus, the time for cutting the self-isolation has undoubtedly come.

“Sadly, as has been the case throughout the pandemic with the Labour administration in Cardiff Bay, they replicate decisions taken by the UK Conservative Government but only after playing politics, questioning and undermining such changes days earlier.

“As we move from the pandemic to endemic these political games have to stop as Labour’s response to Omicron harmed Wales, not through mass hospitalisations and deaths, but through thousands having to isolate, leaving public services understaffed, consumers short-changed, and businesses losing out.”

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Often Welsh Government’s own guidance isn’t being followed, which is leaving young people without the support they are entitled to.”

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Health

COVID-19 spring booster vaccine programme begins in Hywel Dda UHB

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APPOINTMENTS for the COVID-19 spring booster vaccine have started for those who are eligible at Hywel Dda University Health Board’s mass vaccination centres and at most GP practices across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and those with a weakened immune system. For this reason, people aged 75 years and over, those in care homes and those aged 12 years and over with a weakened immune system (as defined in table 3 and 4 of the Green Book’s chapter 14a) are being offered a spring booster.

The spring booster will be offered up until the end of June and is advised to be given around six months (and not before three months) after the last dose of vaccine was received to get the best protection.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The health board and participating GP practices are in the process of contacting people eligible for a spring booster of the COVID-19 vaccine. Appointments are being scheduled in line with the latest JCVI advice and in accordance with age and clinical vulnerability.

“People will be invited to attend either a mass vaccination centre or their GP practice. If your practice is participating in the vaccine rollout, they will contact you when it is your turn, so we kindly ask people to not contact their GP about the COVID-19 vaccination.

“Mass vaccination centres across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire continue to accommodate drop-ins for everyone aged 12 and over to allow easy and flexible access to the vaccine due to increased cases of COVID in our community. Should someone eligible for a spring booster attend as a drop-in without an appointment, they won’t be turned away.”

If you have been given an appointment at a GP for your spring booster please keep to this to help minimise vaccine waste.

Bethan added: “Vaccination clinics for children aged 5 to 11 will continue while the spring booster is being rolled out. It is strictly by appointment only for this age group so please book an appointment by calling 0300 303 8322 before travelling to a vaccination centre.”

For more information about the spring booster programme in Hywel Dda UHB, including drop-in opening times, please visit hduhb.nhs.wales/covid19-vaccination or call 0300 303 8322 or complete this form https://forms.office.com/r/9kg96t6Chs 

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