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Omicron peak could come in ‘the next 10 to 14 days’ in Wales

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THE FIRST MINISTER Mark Drakeford has said he is ‘hopeful’ figures in Wales could start to reduce from around two weeks’ time.

The comments came during the live briefing held yesterday lunchtime in Cardiff, with the First Minister referring to modelling several times and comparing it to what has been recorded in firm figures.

The First Minister said of the above slide, “It shows you how the modelling that we’ve had done for us here in Wales shows how the Omicron wave wave is expected to behave. The blue line shows how cases are predicted to grow over the coming weeks. The black line shows the actual confirmed cases.

“As you can see, the actual cases are following very closely the predicted wave, and what the wave shows is the speed at which the Omicron wave will break over us and then how cases decline at a relatively rapid rate as well.

“Now we haven’t reached the peak of that wave yet, it could be within the next 10 to 14 days. But we will get to the top of the wave and then hopefully we will see the numbers reducing again here in Wales.

“The latest figures show that there are more than 2300 cases per 100,000 people across Wales. Cases are highest amongst 20- to 39-year-olds but we are also now seeing rises in older age groups. As community transmission increases rapidly, while the figures are clearly concerning, they are in line with what the modelling forecasts told us.”

“Every close contact is an opportunity for it to spread.”

Data was also released on the number of people to being admitted to hospital with coronavirus, “The latest figures show that there are now a total of 994, just under 1000, COVID-19 patients in our hospitals in Wales and that is a 43% increase on a single week and that number is the highest we have seen in Welsh hospitals since March of last year”.

“There are now around 40 people are so ill in hospital that they have to receive critical care and the majority of those people are people who have not been vaccinated. Very sadly since just the start of this year, public health Wales has reported 38 New deaths from coronavirus.”

When asked about reversing restrictions, and what timeframes could be involved, the First Minister said, “As people will have seen from the model that we showed earlier, the position over the next 10 days to two weeks is not going to be one that is easing.

“The numbers are likely to continue to rise. So it will not be until we have past the peak of infections and we are sure that we can see the pressures on the spread of this virus in the community are beginning to reduce, and will then take a while as it always does to feed through into reducing pressure on health services, hospital services, critical care services.

“So I don’t anticipate that over the next fortnight we will be in a position to move away from the level of restrictions we currently have in place. But, we will track it every day. We will review it every week. And when we see that corner being turned and we can see the number as we hope coming down reasonably rapidly. That will be the point at which we will be able to assess when it is safe to begin to lift the extra restrictions and protections we put in place so far.”

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Health

No monkeypox cases identified in Wales say public health officials

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THE UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 11 additional cases of monkeypox in England.

The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed since May 6 to 20.

The new cases come on top of the nine already identified in the country.

There are currently no cases of monkeypox identified in Wales, public health in Wales have said.

Public Health Wales said it is working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland, and Northern Ireland HSC Health Protection Agency to respond to UK cases of monkeypox.

Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are working closely with our UK partners to monitor and respond to cases of monkeypox in the UK. Monkeypox is a rare disease that has been reported mainly in central and West African countries. No cases have so far been identified in Wales.”

“Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.”

The first case in the current outbreak was confirmed on May 6.

It is not the first time monkeypox has been reported in the UK.

Three cases were also reported in 2021, two of them in Wales.

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Health

Huge increase in demand for rehabilitation services in Wales in past six months.

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A SURVEY by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has found that 68% of its members in Wales reported an increase in demand for occupational therapy services and that 75% of its members in Wales feel as though they are unable to provide the necessary support to patients. The findings raise questions about the prospects of providing timely rehabilitation support, which is vital to people’s recovery from short term illnesses and the long-term management of health issues.

As the country begins to ‘live with COVID’, already overstretched, rehabilitation services have seen demand rocket over the past two years due to the COVID pandemic and are now seeing a further rapid increase in patients. The findings raise questions about the prospects of providing timely rehabilitation, for people recovering from short- and long-term illnesses, and need urgent support to live independently carry out their daily lives.

The survey, which over 550 occupational therapists working across the UK took part in, found that:

84% are supporting people whose needs have become more complex due to delayed interventions arising from the pandemic
82% of respondents noted increased demand for occupational therapy-led rehabilitation over the previous six months.
71% of respondents felt there were not enough OTs to meet demand.
66% of respondents reported difficulties in delivering rehabilitation services due to reduced access to facilities, suitable space and equipment.
50% are supporting people affected by Long Covid.

Commenting on the survey, RCOT Director of Practice and Innovation, Karin Orman said:

“It’s clear from this survey that rehabilitation services across Wales and the rest of UK are overloaded, with the vast majority of occupational therapists seeing a huge increase in demand and complexity of their caseload over the last six months alone. This simply isn’t sustainable and there isn’t a big enough workforce to currently meet demand.

“Across the UK, health and social care leaders need to invest more in rehabilitation services and drive the recruitment of more occupational therapists as a matter of urgency. Not in a few years but now. As leaders of rehabilitation services, occupational therapists are a vital part of the solution to getting through the backlog of people needing intervention. The maths is simple – the quicker people have access to rehabilitation services, the better their chances at getting back to doing the things they need and love to do.”

Russell George MS, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee of the Senedd said:

“The Health and Social Care Committee has recently undertaken a detailed inquiry into the impact of waiting times on people in Wales. We firmly believe that effective rehabilitation and reablement are vital to ensure that people can stay healthy after they have received their treatment.

“A key recommendation of the committee to the Welsh Government is that the Minister for Health and Social Services should set out what action is being taken to ensure that health boards are providing suitable venues for the delivery of services such as rehabilitation and occupational therapy both in hospitals, on the primary care estate, and in the community.

“We look forward to receiving the response of the Welsh Government.”

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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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