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Concerning rise of Covid-19 cases in Carmarthenshire

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THE HEALTH protection zone covering a large part of Llanelli is working well and helping bring down the number of positive Covid-19 cases, however concerns are increasing about the spread of Covid-19 elsewhere in Carmarthenshire.

Residents living in the zone are being thanked for their efforts and asked to keep up the good work for at least another week to help bring numbers down even further.

Carmarthenshire County Council, working with Hywel Dda University Health Board and Welsh Government, is keeping the situation under constant review.

Discussions are also taking place to prepare for a potential ‘circuit breaker’ – a measure being considered by Welsh Government to stop the rapid spread of the virus across Wales.

It would mean a return of stronger national restrictions for two-three weeks.

Welsh Government is due to announce its decision on Monday.

In Carmarthenshire, although cases remain concentrated in Llanelli (currently at 87.4 per 100,000 of the population*), small clusters of the virus are being identified across the county.

The rate of infection for Carmarthenshire, excluding the Llanelli health protection zone, is currently 64.8 per 100,000 of the population.

The rate for the whole county, including the Llanelli health protection zone, currently stands at 71.5 per 100,000 of the population.

All figures quoted are correct as at October 14, 2020 – the most recently available data.

Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “We are so pleased to see the numbers continue to fall in the Llanelli area – this shows that the extra restrictions put in place are working,” he said.

“We are so very grateful to the people of Llanelli for listening, taking extra care and helping control the spread.

“However there is a note of caution for the rest of the county where we’re seeing figures starting to creep up.

“Largely, these appear to be in small clusters, and not as concentrated as in the Llanelli health protection zone, however it is a cause of concern. It shows that the virus is spreading.

“Contact tracing investigations tell us that many of these cases are linked back to people coming into close contact with eachother whilst socialising in licensed premises or at work, and then sharing the virus with people they live with.

“So we’re asking – please – keep your distance from people you don’t live with, practice good hygiene, wear a face covering, work from home if you can, and self-isolate if you’re asked to or if you have any Covid-19 symptoms.”

Carmarthenshire County Council continues to concentrate resources on supporting licensed premises to provide a safe environment for customers.

Since September 25, when the extra restrictions for Llanelli were announced, over 450 pro-active visits have been made to business premises offering advice and support.

Most are operating well, but there is still a small minority of licensed premises not putting safe systems into place – 12 of those have been served closure notices since September 25, most of them re-opening after making significant improvements.

Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board Ros Jervis said: “This is a critical moment for the wider Carmarthenshire population. We can see cases rising and we need everyone to take action. Please do what you can to protect your health and that of your loved ones. Remember – hands, face and space. Wash hands regularly, use a face covering when social distancing isn’t possible and if you live outside of a health protection zone, where extra restrictions apply, then still place keep a two metre distance from people not in your household, whether you are inside or outside. Taking these measures is not only the best way to protect our health, but also the best way to protect the more vulnerable in our local communities.”

Deputy Chief Executive, Medical Director and respiratory consultant for Hywel Dda University Health Board Professor Philip Kloer added: “We are seeing a worrying rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 in Carmarthenshire. We are already providing care for Covid-19 patients in our hospitals and we expect these numbers to increase, right at the time of year when our hospitals are getting ready for the busy winter period. Please, in order to protect yourselves and the ability of the NHS to provide you and your families with the care you need, follow the guidelines. Our staff are working incredibly hard and following stringent infection prevention procedures. Please do not mistake this as a message to stay away from hospital or primary care services if you need them. We are here for you and we have made our hospitals and health care provision as safe as possible for you and our staff, using all the expert evidence about how this disease spreads and the infection prevention measures required.”

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Missing woman too cold for thermal imaging camera

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A MISSING woman who was so cold that thermal imaging cameras couldn’t detect her, was returned home safely thanks to two determined PCSOs.

The woman had been missing for three hours when she was found freezing cold and motionless on a railway track in Carmarthenshire on Wednesday, January 20.

Dyfed-Powys Police received a report that the woman had gone missing from her home at around 8.20pm. With stormy weather, the temperature dropping, and darkness having set in, concerns for her welfare were immediately high, and finding her became a priority for the division.

Led by a specialist search officer, a team of police officers and PCSOs, including the dog unit and Special Constables, were tasked to look for her.

Sergeant Dylan Davies, who headed up the search, said: “This was an incredibly fast-paced search, with officers conducting all possible enquiries to find the woman safe and well, and as soon as possible.

“We managed to trace a potential location, however despite our best efforts, she was nowhere to be found.

“The lack of light, and very poor weather conditions made the search very difficult, but our officers and staff swiftly worked through a list of enquiries to ensure all possible actions were carried out.”

Due to the heavy rain and wind, the National Police Air Service was unable to assist, however help was provided by a Coastguard helicopter.

Despite the Dyfed-Powys Police Force Incident Manager making contact with the missing woman and gaining a vague location where she might have been, searches from the air and on land proved unsuccessful.

“What was incredibly concerning was that she said she was near a railway line, but couldn’t explain where she was,” Sgt Davies said.

“We later discovered that despite having her location, and the helicopter flying directly overhead, she was so cold that thermal imaging cameras were not able to pick her up.

“This shows just how critical the situation was.”

Thankfully, PCSOs Dayton Hughes and Ian Morgan painstakingly searched the area, and finally spotted her at 11.25pm – three hours after she was reported missing.

“She was motionless, soaking wet and freezing cold, but to all our relief she roused and was able to be taken home to her family once she had warmed up,” Sgt Davies said.

“I dread to think what could have happened had she spent any more time exposed to those conditions.

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all the team who was involved in the search, but in particular to PCSOs Hughes and Morgan for their determination and tenacity in working beyond their tour of duty to ensure the missing woman was found and taken safely home.”

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Family history research success in Carmarthenshire

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More people in Carmarthenshire have been delving into their past than ever before.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic over 155,000 searches have been recorded by Carmarthenshire libraries of library members taking advantage of free access to Ancestry.com from home.

That is an increase of 220% compared to the previous year, and more than any libraries in Wales.

Ancestry Library Edition covers both UK and international databases and gives access to census records, indexes of births, marriages & deaths, chapel registers, military records, wills and more.

Access to the site is usually provided on the library service’s public computers but in response to the pandemic, Ancestry has allowed library customers to search its wealth of information from their homes.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said “Many residents have clearly used the lockdown to explore the stories of their own families and homes. These impressive figures demonstrate the popularity of the highly valued family and local history services provided by our libraries.  As well as increasing our sense of identity, researching the lives of our ancestors and local areas help us understand how our communities have developed and changed.  It also reminds us that our ancestors lived through challenging times too and overcame them – an important message during these hard times.”

Anyone who lives, works or studies in Carmarthenshire can enjoy the digital library for free by becoming a member.  As well as Ancestry, there are over 19,000 comics and books to download. Members can also access the driving theory and Life in the UK tests, download newspapers, learn a new language, access over 500 interactive stories and activities for children, learn a new subject, get up to speed on computer software with online tutorials, and search through hundreds of encyclopaedias.

If you are not already a member, you can join here whilst our libraries are closed https://wales.ent.sirsidynix.net.uk/client/en_GB/carm_en#

For further information contact your regional library:

Llanelli – 01554 744327

Carmarthen – 01267 224824

Ammanford – 01269 598360

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Paul Davies MS quits as Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd

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PRESELI Pembrokeshire MS Paul Davies quit as Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd this morning.

The Conservatives’ Chief Whip also quit his frontbench role.

The dramatic move comes only 24 hours after Mr Davies got the Conservative Senedd Group’s unanimous backing.

However, later yesterday (Friday, Jan 21) – as criticism poured in – the Welsh Conservatives’ Executive met. In that meeting, Constituency Chairs reported widespread disbelief and anger among the Party’s members. Conservative Party Chair, Lord Davies of Gower, received particular criticism for a lack of leadership. Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales, also attended the meeting and was left in no doubt of the strength of feeling within the Party.

In a statement issued via the Conservative Senedd media office, Mr Davies said: “I am truly sorry for my actions on the 8th and 9th December. They have damaged the trust and respect that I have built up over 14 years in the Welsh Parliament with my colleagues and the wider Conservative Party but more importantly with the people of Wales.
“Whilst using the Senedd facilities at all times my colleagues and I maintained social distancing. There was no drunk or disorderly behaviour. We did not have to be escorted out of the building as some reports have suggested. What we did was to have some alcohol with a meal we heated up in a microwave, which was a couple of glasses of wine on Tuesday and a beer on Wednesday.
I broke no actual Covid-19 regulations.

“For the last 10 months of the pandemic, I have followed the Covid-19 regulations to the letter. As with everyone across Wales, I have not seen family members or friends, I’ve not eaten at my favourite restaurants and, like you, we enjoyed a subdued Christmas compared to other years. I will continue to follow the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Regulations and I would urge everyone to play their part in defeating this virus so that we can all return to normality.

“My priority as Leader of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Welsh Parliament has always been to bring the Conservatives into government in Wales. Our main focus as the Welsh Conservatives must always be on challenging and removing a failing Labour government.

“I am grateful for the support of colleagues in the Welsh Conservative Party for their support in this difficult time, and especially to my wife Julie and my Senedd colleagues who have offered empathy, trust and advice. They have treated me with the same courtesy and decency I hope I have always extended to others.

“Over the last couple of days, I have been speaking with colleagues in the Senedd and the wider Conservative Party. Whilst they have confirmed they do not wish to see me step down, I believe that my actions are becoming a distraction from holding this failing Welsh Labour-led Government to account, not just on their rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines but from more than 20 years of their dither, delay and failure. Yesterday I indicated to the Conservative group in the Welsh Parliament that I wished to resign, but they urged me to reflect further, and we agreed to meet again on Monday. However, for the sake of my party, my health and my own conscience, I simply cannot continue in post.

“Therefore, I am stepping down as Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament with immediate effect.”

“It is for the group to decide how best to choose a new leader, but I hope that process will be seamless and speedy, and I pledge my support to whoever becomes leader.”

Darren Millar blamed ‘wildly inaccurate and unfair reports’ and said:

“There was a member of catering staff present in the tea room for a short time after my arrival on the 8th December but she did not serve me a drink, nor did I request one. In fact, I encouraged the member of staff to go home and close up the counter as it had been a long day for her. No members of catering staff were present on the 9th December and the counter was closed for the whole evening.

“While I am advised that I did not breach coronavirus regulations I am very sorry for my actions, especially given the impact of the tough restrictions that people and businesses are enduring.

“For this reason, and given that Paul Davies has resigned as Welsh Conservative Group Leader in the Senedd, I have decided to step down from my front bench role in the Welsh Parliament.

“I am cooperating fully with ongoing investigations and will continue to do so.”
Whoever replaces Paul Davies, the role is likely to an interim appointment ahead of a vote of the Party membership after the Senedd election.

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