WALES leading doctor has urged everyone to take steps to protect themselves from Covid-19 as case rates are surging to their highest levels in the pandemic.
Dr Chris Jones, Wales’ deputy chief medical officer, encouraged people across Wales to get their booster vaccine and follow measures to curb the spread of the virus.
The latest figures show case rates have risen sharply to more than 910 cases per 100,000 people – the highest levels since the start of the pandemic.
Some 6,000 new infections are being confirmed daily, the majority of which will be caused by the new omicron variant.
More than 54% of adults in Wales have had their booster vaccine.
Dr Jones said: “We are seeing a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases caused by omicron all over Wales. The majority of these are in younger people and we believe they would have been contracted before Christmas.
“This new variant is very transmissible – it spreads very quickly wherever people come together.
“Please take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. This means wearing a face covering in indoor public places; keeping your distance from other people wherever possible and, if you can, reducing the number of people you meet regularly.
“If you have symptoms, self-isolate and arrange to get a PCR test.
“Please also get your booster vaccine – it’s the best way of protecting ourselves.
“Wales is at alert level two and new protections are in place. This is a worrying time but if we all work together and look out for each other, we can keep Wales safe.”
New alert level two measures for businesses and updated and strengthened guidance to help people stay safe at home came into effect on Boxing Day in Wales in response to the predicted omicron wave.
The key things everyone can do to lower their risk of contracting coronavirus:
- Get fully vaccinated, including having your booster – the vaccine offers significant protections for you and for people you care about.
- Self-isolate and get a PCR if you have Covid-19 symptoms. Avoid others when ill.
- Take lateral flow tests twice a week if you don’t have any symptoms and flow before you go out or meet people. If it’s positive don’t go and arrange to have a PCR test.
- Keep your distance from others wherever possible.
- Limit the number of people you meet with, especially if you’re meeting different people in quick succession.
- Meet outdoors if you can or in well-ventilated places.
- Avoid crowded places where possible.
- Wash your hands; sneeze into tissues and keep surfaces lots of people touch clean.
- Wear a face covering, especially in crowded spaces.
- Use the NHS COVID Pass or show a negative lateral flow test result to attend large events, venues, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
Hywel Dda Health Board confirms Bank holiday arrangements
FOLLOWING confirmation that Monday, 19 September, will be a Bank Holiday to mark the Queen’s State Funeral, the Health Board is contacting all patients to confirm or re-arrange their appointments, depending on service availability. Whilst all emergency services will be operating as normal, we need to adjust some elements of our planned care services and prioritise patients with urgent care needs wherever possible.
Our Chemotherapy Units will be operating as normal on Monday and some surgery for urgent cases will take place at our hospitals.
Where appointments need to be re-scheduled, patients are being contacted over the coming days by the relevant team to re-arrange their appointment as quickly as possible. In some cases, this may mean bringing appointments forward to this week. Some face-to-face outpatient appointments will still go ahead, and some may be held as an online/virtual appointment on Monday.
If you have an appointment on Monday, and have not been contacted by 1pm on Friday, please contact the health board’s communication hub on 0300 3038322 or email email@example.com for further information and guidance. Staff at the communication hub are available to answer calls between 10am-4pm on Saturday, and 10am-3pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. We are contacting all patients by telephone or text message, please check your telephone for any messages.
As GP surgeries and most Community Pharmacies and Dental services will be closed on Monday, a Bank Holiday out of hours service will be provided. Individuals requiring repeat prescriptions are encouraged to arrange them in advance.
All urgent and emergency care services will continue as normal. If you are unwell and unsure what to do, you can visit the online symptom checker or call NHS 111. The Minor Injury Units at acute hospital sites will be open as usual. Opening hours for community walk-in services can be found on the health board’s website. Please attend an Emergency Department, or call 999, if you have a life-threatening illness or serious injury, such as:
Severe breathing difficulties
- Severe pain or bleeding
- Chest pain or a suspected stroke
- Serious trauma injuries (e.g., from a car crash).
We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your support and patience.
Hywel Dda set to upgrade Glangwili’s X-Ray facilities
STAFF and patients are set for a boost with the news of an upgrade of Glangwili’s X-ray facilities. Hywel Dda University Health Board has been fortunate to be awarded Welsh Government funds, as part of a health board wide imaging equipment replacement scheme, which will allow for a new x-ray room to be built at Glangwili General Hospital.
The new development will mean that one of the two existing x-ray rooms at Glangwili General Hospital will be refurbished with a new superior digital x-ray room which will facilitate higher standards of diagnosis.
Following numerous breakdowns of the current x-ray room, this new and improved equipment is welcomed and will help improve x-ray capacity at Glangwili General Hospital. The new state of the art equipment will produce superior image quality of x-rays and at the same time lower radiation doses. The rejuvenation will also mean a fresh new and improved environment for patients, especially our paediatric patients.
Construction will take place from September 5 until November 11, during this time Glangwili General Hospital will operate with its remaining x-ray room which will mean some delays for outpatients. Delays will be mitigated by the use of a temporary x-ray room which can be used for some examinations.
Patients with appointments for x-rays will be offered evenings and weekend appointments and some will be offered slots at other health board sites to keep momentum on reducing waiting times. The team at Glangwili will ensure that emergency patients will be seen with as little delay as possible and that CT, MRI, Ultrasound and Fluoroscopy appointments are not expected to be affected.
Andrew Carruthers, Executive Director of Operations, said: “This investment from the Welsh Government will be a great benefit to our patients. The team at Glangwili are committed to the continuous development of services that we offer as a health board and the new equipment will benefit our patients. We are excited for the other three acute sites to have their replacement x-ray room within this financial year.”
Autumn Covid-19 booster roll-out begins today in Wales
THE ROLL-out of the autumn Covid-19 booster has started today (September 1) in Wales with care home residents and staff across Wales the first to receive the vaccine.
Everyone who is eligible for the autumn booster will be invited for a vaccination by their health boards. Invitations will be issued in order of vulnerability, with everyone eligible being offered a booster vaccine by December.
The vaccine will help support the immunity of all those who are at higher risk from COVID-19, improving their protection against severe illness, while also helping to support the NHS during winter 2022-23.
This autumn, in line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine booster will be offered to:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
- Frontline health and social care workers
- All adults aged 50 years and over
- People aged five to 49 years who are in a clinical risk group
- People aged five to 49 years who are household contacts of people who are immunosuppression
- People aged 16 to49 who are carers.
In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), eligible adults aged 18 and over will initially be offered the Moderna vaccine which protects from both the original strain of coronavirus and the Omicron variant. Those eligible aged under 18 will be offered the Pfizer vaccine. Both vaccines will be offered at least three months after a previous dose.
The vaccines will be administered in a variety of settings including GP surgeries and vaccination centres.
The winter respiratory vaccination strategy will ensure all those eligible for the autumn booster are also protected from seasonal flu – people are being encouraged to take up the flu vaccine when offered. All those eligible for a flu vaccine will be offered it before the end of the year.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Our winter respiratory vaccination programme will help protect the most vulnerable in our communities from flu and coronavirus this winter. The COVID-19 booster campaign will start with those in care homes, alongside those working within the NHS and the social care sector.
“Vaccines have had an enormous impact on the course of the pandemic – they have saved countless lives and given us the freedom and confidence to restart our lives.
“I want to thank everyone working in the NHS and other organisations who will once again lead efforts to protect the most vulnerable through vaccination.
“This year, we will once again offer an expanded flu programme, with 1.5 million people being eligible for a free vaccine.
I would encourage anyone who is eligible to take up their invitation to help themselves.
“All eligible adults will be invited for their autumn COVID-19 booster via letter and text message from their health board by December and I would ask people not to contact their GPs about their invite so they can continue to focus on looking after people’s health.”
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