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Coronavirus

Welsh Government announce self-isolation payments

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(Image: AndrewLozovyi (Evgen Boyko) / Depositphotos)

People who have been told they must self-isolate as they have Covid-19 or have been in contact with someone who has it may be entitled to a £500 payment from the Welsh Government.

A scheme aimed at supporting individuals who have been told by the NHS Wales Test, Trace Protect service to self-isolate is being launched in Swansea from 3pm today (Monday, November 16).

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Applicants will have to fit certain eligibility criteria to qualify for one of two types of Self-Isolation Support payments.

The allowances are designed to ensure that eligible people asked to self-isolate do not lose income by abiding by the rules. The arrangements will be managed by councils but the rules have been set out by Welsh Government who will also fund the scheme.

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “These payments will come as a relief to those eligible individuals who’ve done the right thing, listened to the advice and decided to self-isolate to protect others from catching Covid-19.

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“Local authorities have been working closely with the Welsh Government for a number of weeks to encourage it to take the necessary action to put these payments in place.

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“They are vital because some people in employment or self-employed can face the prospect of losing a significant portion of their income if they self-isolate. On the other hand, if they carry on working – in contravention of new laws being introduced by Welsh Government – they risk spreading the disease in their community and to their workmates.

He said: “If we are to bring the spread of the virus under control and we are asking people who are already low-paid to take a hit on their income to do so, it is only fair the Welsh Government does what it can to support them to do the right thing.

“In Swansea it’s our aim to get payments to those eligible to receive them as quickly as possible.”

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The move comes as the council continues to pay out business grants to local firms to help them survive and protect local jobs through the pandemic. In the last six months more than £100m has been paid out to more than 4,000 eligible businesses.

Anyone in work or self-employed who has been told by a contact tracer to self-isolate on or after October 23 this year, could potentially be able to claim a Self-Isolation payment.

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However, they will need to meet a number of other strict criteria to get the grant.

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They must be employed or self employed, unable to work from home and going to lose income as a result of that. Also, they must be receiving at least one of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit
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In addition, there is a second Self-Isolation Support scheme which allows a local authority to make a discretionary £500 payment to people in exceptional circumstances who meet most of the criteria for the main grant but do not receive one of the benefits in the list.

For a discretionary payment to be awarded, a person must be facing financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while self isolating.

Welsh Government have provided examples of when they consider a discretionary payment could be made:

  • To people with No Recourse to Public Funds (in other words, anyone who is not allowed to claim most benefits, tax credits or housing assistance that is paid by the state).
  • To people with a total income below £350 a week AND savings less than £6,000. For couples this will be their joint income and savings amounts.

To find out more about Self-Isolation Payment grants and how to apply for one, please go to www.gov.wales/self-isolation-support-scheme or www.swansea.gov.uk/isolationpayment

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Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

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But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

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“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

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Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

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Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

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Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

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Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

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Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

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People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

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Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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