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Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccine roll-out begins in Wales

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The first COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled-out across Wales from today (Tuesday 8 December 2020), the Welsh Government has confirmed.

Wales was the first country in the world to receive supplies of the vaccine last week, and has today become one of the first to begin protecting people against coronavirus.

The Welsh Government and NHS have been preparing for today since June.

The start of the vaccination programme comes just days after the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for use in the UK, confirming its safety and effectiveness for mass vaccination centre use, based on a detailed independent expert review of the results of largescale clinical trials.

Some 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be available across the UK, with Wales getting its allocation based on its population. In the first wave of vaccine deliveries, Wales will receive almost 40,000 doses, enough for nearly 20,000 people.

All health boards will start administering vaccines to care home staff, those over 80 years and frontline health and social care workers most at risk – over 6000 doses will be given by the end of this week.

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Despite the specific storage and preparation challenges posed by the vaccine, work continues to ensure a safe deployment of effective vaccine to care home residents.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, said: “Last week, Wales was the first country in the world to receive supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine. Today, I’m very proud Wales has become one of the first countries in the world to begin the roll-out of the vaccine to its population.

“2020 has been a very difficult year for all of us. This vaccine is a small glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel.

“But the fact we have a vaccine does not mean we can stop doing those things that keep us safe. We must all continue to do our bit to prevent the spread of coronavirus: regular hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a face covering where required to protect yourself and others.”

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Vaccines can take many years, even decades, to develop. The fact that a safe and effective vaccine has been developed in less than year is a remarkable tribute to all scientists and researchers around the world who have worked so hard to find a vaccine for COVID-19.

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“We have been working really hard to plan for its arrival. Today, the first people in Wales will receive the vaccine. This is the positive news we have all been waiting for.

“We will now do everything we can to ensure we successfully deliver the COVID-19 vaccine across Wales in the days, weeks and months ahead.”


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Coronavirus

Swansea professor’s COVID contribution recognised with new honour

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A Swansea academic at the forefront of shaping our understanding of Covid-19 has received further recognition for his work in the field of data science.

Co-director of Population Data Science and Clinical Professor of Public Health at Swansea University, Professor Ronan Lyons has been elected to a prestigious European body, the Academia Europaea.

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This latest honour follows on from Professor Lyons becoming a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and being appointed OBE in the New Year’s honours.

The focus of his work is the use of routinely collected data to better understand factors that influence health and wellbeing and developing and evaluating interventions aimed to improve the health of the public. He has led some of the largest studies ever undertaken in this field and contributed to research surrounding the pandemic and its consequences at Wales, UK and European level.

Professor Lyons said he was delighted to have been recommended for membership of the prestigious Academia Europaea, which aims to encourage the highest possible standards in scholarship, research and education, and promote a better public understanding of the benefits of learning.

He said: “This honour is a recognition of the shared efforts and hard work of the various teams and partners I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. None more so than over the last two years, during the pandemic.

“Through the European Population Health Information Research Infrastructure (PHIRI) Project we’re developing research infrastructure to generate the best Covid-19 population health knowledge. The multi-disciplinary, One Wales working group provided crucial evidence to Welsh Government’s response to Covid community transmission and informed policy development across the UK.

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“The International Covid-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) partnership with Health Data Research UK and the Bills Gates Foundation and others, is supporting a globally coordinated approach to tackling Covid and future threats.

“This has been an incredibly challenging period for us all and I’m enormously proud that these labours have been acknowledged and rewarded by this election.”

Professor Lyons now joins more than 5,000 other eminent, individual scientists and scholars, who cover a broad range of academic disciplines that include former Nobel Prize laureates, Turing Award recipients and Fields Medal winners.

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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Carmarthen

Health board lifts visiting restrictions at Glangwili and Withybush hospitals

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Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed that restrictions for people visiting patients will be lifted in Glangwili and Withybush hospitals from Wednesday 20 July 2022.

Visiting to Bronglais Hospital, Prince Philip Hospital and community hospitals remain open, by appointment only.

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The health board are advised that it will still be a requirement to wear masks in Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals.

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, said: “Last week we had to make the decision to extend measures at Glangwili Hospital in addition to Withybush Hospital to reduce the risk to our patients and staff and we thank people for their support and co-operation.

“We can all continue to take protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to protect vulnerable people and the NHS.

“We strongly advise anyone in our locality who has the classic symptoms, or who suspects they may have COVID-19 to isolate and take an LFD test. If positive, we urge people to isolate – this will help you to rest and recover while protecting others from risk of transmission.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Coronavirus

Mask wearing reinstated at Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital

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Hywel Dda University Health Board have said that all staff and visitors to Prince Philip Hospital must wear face masks (unless exempt) with immediate effect following the latest review of prevalence of COVID-19 in the community.

This follows the decisions made last week to reinstate mask wearing at Glangwili Hospital and both mask wearing and visiting restrictions at Withybush Hospital.

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The health board have said that visiting will continue in general at Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals following the latest review of case numbers but local ward restrictions are in place so please contact the ward to arrange your visit in advance

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Wearing a surgical mask or face covering and keeping a physical distance when attending a hospital or medical facility will help protect our most vulnerable patients and service users.

“We are grateful for the ongoing support and efforts of our communities to stop the spread, particularly around more vulnerable people.

“These measures will be continually reviewed, and as soon as it is safe to do so, we will ease these restrictions.”

The health board is stressing the continued importance of the behaviours known to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and the different requirements in place in health and social care settings.

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Mandy, added: “Isolating if we have symptoms of COVID-19, or other infectious diseases, is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the onward spread and break the chain of transmission.

“We strongly encourage anyone in our locality who has the classic symptoms, or who suspects they may have COVID-19 to isolate and take an LFD test. If positive, we urge people to continue with the same isolation guidance that has been in place – this will help you to rest and recover and protect others from risk of transmission.”

Later this week, the Welsh Government will update its vaccine strategy with details of the next booster dose in the autumn.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton said:

“The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. While the vaccine does not completely stop transmission it offers protection against serious illness and reduces the risk of hospitalisation.

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“You can still get the vaccine if you haven’t had your full course, or you were too ill to get your spring booster and I would encourage parents to think about getting the vaccine for their children over the summer months to help minimise any disruption to their education during the autumn and winter terms.”

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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