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COVID-19 tests being encouraged for wider range of symptoms

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PEOPLE living in Carmarthenshire are being encouraged to have a free COVID-19 test if they have a wider range of symptoms.

Previously, only those with either a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss/change of taste and smell, were advised to seek a test. The health board is now also encouraging people to have a test if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Generally feeling unwell and a history of being in contact with a known COVID-19 case
  • Any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test

The change aims to find hidden COVID-19 cases in our communities and drive down the numbers of onward transmissions.

Identifying infections, which could otherwise go undetected, is particularly important as new variants of the virus emerge. The more tests carried out, the easier it will be to spot early clusters of cases and possible virus mutations. This will help with easing restrictions in the future.

The new testing regime will initially run for at least 28 days and will then be reviewed. Swansea Bay University Health Board is also expanding its offer of testing in this way.

Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies and Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Overall, we are seeing a positive picture across the three counties and there has been a steady fall in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Also, the demand for tests has come down considerably since the end of 2020, so we have capacity to expand the offer of testing to those with a wider range of symptoms.

“We know the wider group of symptoms do occur in COVID-19 but are not reported as often as the ‘classic three’ symptoms. With the very low rates of flu circulating at the moment, it is more likely that wider flu-like symptoms are due to COVID-19.

“Our aim is to find as many COVID-19 cases as possible so we can prevent the virus being passed on to others. We want to do everything we can to help bring the pandemic to a close as fast as possible and help restrictions to be lifted.”

If you have any of the symptoms outlined above, please stay at home and get a test by booking online via the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or ringing 119.

As these are national contacts, you may automatically be asked about the ‘classic three’ symptoms. However, to book your test simply choose either one of these options: “You have been asked to take a test by your local council” or “You are part of a government pilot project”.

Once you have had your test, you must continue to self-isolate until you receive your result, which will usually be within 24 hours of the test. If your result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the date your symptoms started. You will also be contacted by the local Tracing Team.

If your result is negative, you can end your self-isolation, when you feel well enough to do so.

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Have your say on the future of housing in Carmarthenshire

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RESIDENTS and businesses are being urged to have their say on the future of housing in Carmarthenshire.

Carmarthenshire County Council is developing a new 10-year Housing and Regeneration Masterplan and residents are being asked for their views.

Providing quality, affordable homes is a key priority for the council and it is investing millions of pounds in new housing stock; creating much-needed jobs and helping to grow the local economy and regenerate communities.

In 2015, the council became the first in Wales to suspend the Right to Buy to retain its declining housing stock, and built a number of bungalows – the first local authority housing to be built in Wales since the 1980s.

A year later, in 2016, it launched its affordable homes plan to deliver 1,000 additional affordable homes in the county by 2021 by building new, buying from the market and converting empty buildings.

Now the council is shaping its plans for the next 10 years which includes building over 900 new council homes and investing nearly £150million across the county by 2029.

It is important that the new homes are of the right type, size and tenure, and in the right places to build strong sustainable communities where people want to live and work.

The Housing and Regeneration Masterplan will also recognise the role of housing development and investment in stimulating the overall economic growth of the county – which is now even more critical as we recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents are being encouraged to take part in our online consultation which starts on Monday, June 14.

Cllr Linda Evans, Executive Board Member for Housing, said: “We are proud to be leading the way here in Carmarthenshire to deliver new, affordable, high quality and much-needed homes for local people.

“We have already achieved so much during the last few years, but we must now plan for the next 10 years and we need the views of our residents to help tell us where they think these homes should be developed, who should have them, and what type and size they should be.

“We are committed to making more homes available for those in highest need, and aim to deliver a plan that will provide homes in communities where people want to live, with a range of homes to suit specific needs.

“This includes our rural towns and villages, where we must help to make sure that local people are able to afford quality affordable homes and remain in their communities; as well as increasing the residential offer in our town centres, increasing footfall and helping businesses to thrive.

“Aside from providing much needed homes in the county, the investment will also boost the local economy creating jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships in the construction industry.”

The council is delivering this commitment in a number of ways, including building more council homes and working with housing association partners to deliver more new build schemes, buying stock that suits our needs, working with developers to ensure a range of affordable homes are built as part of private developments and bringing empty homes back into use. 

It is also actively working with landlords to encourage them to make their properties available at affordable rent levels, including bringing more private sector homes into the management of our in-house social lettings agency.

To take part in the survey please visit the consultation pages on the council website carmarthenshire.gov.wales/consultations Paper copies are available from one of our customer service Hwbs. The survey closes on July 26.

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Community wardens hit the streets of Tyisha and Glanymor

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has appointed two new community wardens to patrol the Tyisha and Glanymor areas of Llanelli.

The community wardens will support the local Neighbourhood Policing Team and other agencies to provide a visible presence within the area and will have a varied role which will include:

  • Patrolling hot spot areas to deter crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Tackling vandalism and fly tipping as well as issues relating to communal areas and open spaces/parks
  • Supporting the introduction of a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme
  • Organising the installation of crime prevention measures
  • Offering targeted support to vulnerable members of the community
  • Encourage wellbeing activities and community engagement with youth projects, schools and clubs including the promotion of volunteering opportunities.

Linda Evans, chair of the Tyisha steering group and executive board member for housing said: “I am delighted that Tyisha and Glanymor now have community wardens who will work closely with Dyfed Powys Police and other agencies to deliver a multi-agency approach to tackling issues of community concern. In response to community feedback they will prioritise tackling anti-social behaviour issues, reducing crime relating to drug and alcohol misuse and engaging with the community to make positive changes throughout Tyisha and Glanymor.”

Ann Davies, Executive Board Member and vice-chair of the Tyisha Steering Group said: “The work carried out by the community wardens will make a positive difference through helping to reduce fear of crime and incidents of anti-social behaviour as well as improving quality of life for those who live in these communities.”

The introduction of community wardens to the Tyisha area forms part of the council’s ambitious Transforming Tyisha project which looks to regenerate the area through increasing community safety, developing housing and community facilities and improving the environment.

To contact the community wardens or for more information on joining Tyisha and Glanymor’s Neighbourhood Watch Scheme please e-mail tyisha@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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Pollinators protected during annual grass verge cuts

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council highways crews are starting their annual roadside grass cutting operations this week, but not every verge will be fully cut.

As part of its duty to protect biodiversity, grass will only be cut in one metre swathes in most areas where growth is affecting road visibility and pedestrian safety and several verges will be left until later in the year allowing flowers to set seed before being cut.

Much of Carmarthenshire’s roadside growth of grass and wildflowers will be left untouched to support local wildlife and pollinating insects.

Cuts will only be taken in these areas if there are health and safety concerns, particularly in 30-40mph areas in towns and villages.

Cllr Hazel Evans, the council’s executive Board Member for Environment, said the authority has taken a careful view of grass cutting operations not just for the sake of biodiversity but also to keep costs down.

“We have to carefully balance the needs of local wildlife with our responsibility for highway safety,” she said. “The importance of the road verge network for nature conservation is reflected in our verge maintenance policy. We delay the cutting of some verges in the interests of conservation as long as highway safety for motorists, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians is not jeopardised.

“This is not only a reflection of our duty to the environment but also follows budget reviews which have identified cost savings by reducing and delaying grass cutting operations.”

Pollinating insects are essential for the maintenance of ecosystems through pollination of the wild plants which form the basis of most habitats. They also play an important role in the production of many crops.

The council works to conserve and enhance biodiversity and has a range of projects to support local species and habitats.

Managing areas for wildlife can provide opportunities for individuals, community groups and schools to get involved, benefiting wildlife and people.

Visit www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/biodiversity for further information and ideas for ways to support local conservation. 

For further information on highways operations, visit the website’s travel, roads and parking pages.

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