A HIGH number of Covid-19 cases have been identified in the Amman Valley and St Clears areas of Carmarthenshire, and people are being urged to take extra care.
At present the rate of infection in the Amman Valley area is 1,559.53 per 100,000, and 1,578.46 per 100,000 in St Clears (correct as at 15/11/21).
Most cases in the Amman Valley have been linked to known social gatherings – around 30 cases have been linked to just one social venue – but as yet there are no clear links to known gatherings in St Clears.
As a result, Carmarthenshire County Council’s contact tracing team are urging people living, working and socialising at clubs, groups or local community venues in these areas to take extra care.
They are also urging older residents who have been invited for a booster jab to attend their appointments.
Although vaccinations offer the best personal protection against the virus, being fully vaccinated does not stop anyone catching or spreading the infection to others.
So, to help stop the spread of infection, anyone experiencing any of the Covid-19 or wider cold or flu-like symptoms; or anyone who has been in contact with someone who has recently tested positive for Covid-19, needs to book a PCR test at a local testing centre as soon as possible and self-isolate until the results are known.
Everyone in these areas is being asked to do their best to help stop the spread of infection – reducing social contact, social distancing and meeting outdoors where possible, wearing a mask where required, maintaining good hand hygiene, and staying at home if unwell.
Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “We are monitoring cases in these areas closely and carrying out enhanced contact tracing to make links and help stop the spread of infection.
“Vaccinations offer the best personal protection against severe illness from the virus, but you can still pass it on even if you are fully vaccinated, so please if you are feeling unwell with cold or flu like symptoms – even if these are mild – book a PCR test and self-isolate until you get your results, and if our contact tracers get in touch please follow their advice.
“Our teams are making contact with social venues where people are most likely to gather offering extra support and advice, and we would like to thank everyone running these venues for their cooperation so far. We are aware that some social venues in the Amman Valley have closed voluntarily until the situation improves.”
If you are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms (new or continuous cough, high temperature, loss or change in taste or smell) or wider cold and flu-like symptoms that are new, persistent and/or unusual – even if they are mild – please self-isolate and book a test as soon as possible.
You can book a home testing kit to be sent to your home, or you can book a test at either the Carmarthen or Llanelli testing sites – visit gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-test or call 119 (between 7am and 11pm).
People with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119.
For added reassurance, anyone without symptoms can also get rapid lateral flow Covid-19 tests delivered to their home, visit gov.wales for further information.
Guidance and advice for residents and businesses can be found at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales
Give someone “the best gift” this Christmas by giving blood in West Wales
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.”
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.
First Minister encourages people to get the flu vaccine as he gets the jab
THIS week, First Minister Mark Drakeford, got his flu vaccination and encouraged others to take up the offer this winter to help keep people safe and well.
This year will be Wales’ largest ever flu vaccination programme, with people aged 50 and over and all those eligible for a free vaccine being invited to have their jab.
The school’s flu vaccine programme has also been extended this year to include all those in secondary school in years 7-11.
The Welsh Government has also extended the free flu vaccine to all primary care workers in Wales.
Those eligible for the free flu vaccine also include pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions.
The COVID booster programme will also be co-administered to those who are eligible where appropriate to do so, in an effort to improve efficiency and increase uptake of both vaccines. Both vaccines can be administered in succession without delay so there is no need to postpone either appointment once booked
First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, who received his flu vaccine this week, said:
“Unlike last year, we are expecting a significant amounts of flu to circulate this winter and Covid is still with us. It’s very important people take up their offer of the flu vaccine as well as the Covid booster. Data suggests this winter flu season could be 50% to 100% higher than a typical season.
“As we have seen with COVID, vaccines play a huge role in helping to help protect us. They are the best way to keep everyone safe and help stop the spread of the virus.
“We want to protect as many people as possible, particularly those who are most vulnerable in our community, and reduce the pressure on our NHS.”
Anne McGowan, Nurse Consultant for Public Health Wales’ Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme said:
“Having a flu vaccine every year is one of the most effective ways to protect against flu.”
“Getting it is simple, and for most eligible groups is available from either their General Practice or a Community Pharmacy, with separate arrangements in place for school-age children and NHS staff.
“To help extend protection against infection it is very important to get your COVID-19 booster vaccine when offered. It is available to those eligible groups that completed their primary course of the vaccinations earlier this year.
“COVID-19 booster vaccinations are offered by invitation at existing local mass vaccination centres. Please get yours when you are invited.”
Covid-19 rule changes in Wales
As the Welsh Government attempts to curb the country’s high Covid rates, self-isolating laws are changing in Wales.
Welsh restrictions are being revised in the latest three-weekly review.
In light of the First Minister’s warning that if rates don’t fall in the next three weeks restrictions will be reinstated at the next review on November 19.
What is changing in Wales?
• If someone in your household tests positive or has Covid symptoms you’ll now need to isolate until you’ve had a negative test.
• You’ll need a Covid Pass in theatres and cinemas from November 15.
• Headteachers will be helped to introduce measures if case rates are high locally.
• Shops have been encouraged to get people to stick to the rules to wear masks.
• Businesses encouraged to resume working from home.
Self-isolation: what’s changing?
It is currently not necessary to self-isolate if you are double vaccinated and living with someone who tests positive, unless you have symptoms or a positive test yourself.
When someone in a household has symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19, the Welsh Government’s new guidance recommends that adults who are fully vaccinated, and children and young people aged five to 17, should isolate themselves until they have received a negative PCR test.
If you are not vaccinated, you will need to self-isolate for ten days following contact with someone who has tested positive, including close household contacts.
It is important that you self-isolate until you have taken a PCR test if someone in your household tests positive for the disease. Once the test is negative, you do not need to isolate.
If it is positive, you too will have to isolate. Also, you will have to isolate while you await the results of the test.
Besides that, what else is changing?
From November 15, you’ll need a Covid Pass to go to the cinema or theatre, meaning they are now needed in more places in Wales.
Staff and secondary school students will also be encouraged to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests to help keep coronavirus out of schools.
Retailers have been asked to ensure that people are wearing their masks indoors.
Welsh Government has also encouraged people to work from home “wherever possible”.
What are the latest figures for Wales?
The latest figures for Wales, released on Thursday, showed another 12 people in Wales have died with coronavirus.
New figures from Public Health Wales (PHW) published on Thursday, October 28, which cover the last 24-hour period, show the total number of Covid-related deaths in Wales is now 6,134.
There were also 2,664 new positive cases recorded in today’s update, bringing the total number since the pandemic began to 432,395.
The latest seven-day infection rate across Wales based on the cases for every 100,000 people (for the seven days up to October 23) now stands at 671.3 – a fall from the 699.7 reported on Wednesday and a second consecutive day where rates have fallen.
First Minister Mark Drakeford has said the rates must drop in the next three weeks, or restrictions will be considered again.
The four UK chief medical officers have asked the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation for urgent advice about reducing the interval between the second dose of the vaccine and the booster.
Welsh Government said that almost 400,000 people have had their autumn booster since the programme was launched and more than 40% of 12 to 15-year-olds have had their vaccine.
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