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Coronavirus

New COVID testing centre opens in Neath to improve access to testing

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A walk-through coronavirus testing facility is to open at Milland Road Car Park in Neath as part of the drive to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing in the area.

Testing at Milland Road started on Saturday 9 January, with the facility open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.

In a joint statement by Neath Port Talbot Council Swansea Council and Swansea Bay NHS, they say it will play a key role in helping to protect communities from the spread of coronavirus by providing more tests within the region, and helping to cut down on the distance that people who need a test have to travel.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms, however mild, must stay home and book a test and appointments for the Milland Road facility must be booked in advance. Tests can be booked by calling 119 or online at https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test.

Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr. Rob Jones said: “This new testing centre will provide a convenient additional testing option in a central location for Neath Port Talbot residents and further strengthen our local Test Trace Protect (TTP) process, which is crucial to the fight against coronavirus”

“What we know about how coronavirus is spreading in the Swansea Bay Area, we know through our local TTP service. If you get a call from them, whether as someone who has tested positive or a contact of someone who has, please answer the call to help us limit the impact of each new case.”

The site is easily accessible without a car. Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre). 

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Dr Keith Reid, Swansea Bay UHB Director of Public Heath, said: “We’ve seen the number of people being tested locally drop significantly over the holidays. We need everyone who might have COVID to come forward and be tested. Having local access to testing in Neath helps make it easier to get a test. So, if you have any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 – a temperature, a new persistent cough or loss of taste or smell – then please self-isolate straight away, and only go out for the test. Continue to stay home until you have your result – don’t wait for a positive result before you isolate.”
 
Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through testing will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely. 

The new site is in addition to the regional drive-through sites at Longlands Lane Playing Fields in Margam and the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, and the mobile testing units which travel throughout the Swansea Bay region. 

Anyone testing positive for the virus in Wales will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission. 
 
Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 10 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book at test if they develop symptoms.


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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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