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Coronavirus

500 plus vaccinations per day on the way at Margam Orangery Mass Vaccination Centre

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The Swansea Bay Covid-19 vaccination programme received a major boost this week when The Margam Orangery Mass Vaccination Centre in Margam Park opened its doors.

The centre will be open for a limited number of days in its first week. It will then build its operation to deliver upwards of 500 doses of vaccine per day, to help safeguard the health of residents in Neath Port Talbot and across the Swansea Bay region.

Vaccinations will be by invitation only. People will be contacted by letter or phone when it is their turn to be given their vaccination at hospital, at their surgery, where they live, or at one of the Margam, Gorseinon or Bay Field Hospital vaccination centres.

Welcoming the latest progress, Dr Keith Reid, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Public Heath, said: “Margam Orangery, together with the other mass vaccination centres at Bay Field Hospital on Fabian Way which opened before Christmas and Canolfan Gorseinon, which is due to open soon, will allow us to further step up our vaccination programme, which is already off to a good start.

“Vaccines are being given in order of a nationally agreed vulnerability criteria, and we aim to have vaccinated people in the top four priority groups by mid-February. We are asking everyone to be patient while we work through the delivery based on this, as quickly as possible. Please do not attend a vaccination centre without an appointment.

“Whilst this programme provides a reason for real hope, it is essential that we continue to control the spread of this virus and that everyone follows the rules. Please minimise your contact with others, don’t mix with people you don’t live with, don’t visit people in their homes. Wash your hands, wear a face-covering in indoor public places and keep a minimum of two metres from others.

The Orangery was chosen as a mass vaccination centre after a number of potential sites were carefully scrutinised.  It was the site in Neath Port Talbot which stood out as the best able to provide all the facilities needed, including accessibility, open space, car parking, size and safety considerations.

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Cllr. Rob Jones, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said: “Margam Park has long been a site of historical importance and is now set to play another pivotal role in the story of Neath Port Talbot with The Orangery becoming a mass vaccination centre for people in the county borough.

“As a council we are doing everything we can to support the fight against this virus and have been working closely with the Health Board and Swansea Council to help facilitate the mass vaccination programme across the Swansea Bay region. I’m delighted the programme is underway, we are proud to play a part in it.

“The Orangery will play a crucial role, with tens of thousands of doses of the vaccine set to be delivered there over the coming months. In the meantime, it is absolutely crucial that we all remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health advice on handwashing, social distancing and face coverings over the coming months.”

Delivering this vital facility within a very short timescale has required multiple agencies to work closely, utilising varying expertise to achieve this common goal. NPT Council staff undertook a range of preparatory works to ensure that The Orangery was ready to deliver vaccinations, with support from Orangery Staff, Legal Services, Education and Leisure Services, Emergency Planning and the Health and Safety Section.

The Margam Vaccination Centre is staffed by Swansea Bay University Health Board staff, agency nurses, volunteers and 10 RAF personnel who serve with RAF Central Band, RAF Regiment Band and the RAF Salon Orchestra, all of which are London based. The RAF service men and women helped set up the MVC on Saturday and are now undertaking non-clinical duties, including greeting patients, booking in and ensuring patient flow.

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There are two vaccination pods within the Orangery enabling 20 people to be vaccinated at a time. There are 10 chairs per pod. The whole process from checking in to leaving takes only around half an hour. Patients must wait 15 minutes after vaccination to ensure they are feeling well.

Phylippa Thomas-Dyer, 56, an interim matron at Singleton Hospital, also received her Covid vaccination on Monday. Currently shielding with her husband, who has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment, she said she is frustrated by the amount of people who still don’t seem to take the virus seriously: “It’s been quite a tough time. I am trying to protect my husband,” she said.

“It is a huge relief to have the vaccination and hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel now. But people still need to stick to the rules and understand what’s going on. It’s very frustrating for me to see that people aren’t taking it seriously.”

Julie Edwards, 56, from Cimla, Neath, manager of the Brynsiriol Nursing Home in Briton Ferry, was the first person to be vaccinated at the Orangery by nurse Joy Watts. She said: “We got hit hard (by the virus), so it’s a relief to have the vaccination. It’s been awful for everybody, every care home and every hospital.

“My advice to others is just get the vaccination done. It’s the only way we are going to see the end of this. It’s got to be done.”

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Jordan Williams, 31, from Clydach, Swansea, works in a secure children’s home and was among the first 20 people to be vaccinated at the Orangery. He said: “I feel fine about having it. We need to try to get some normality back. It (the virus) did come through our setting and we seem to have come through it, but this vaccination is providing us with reassurance.”

By the end of January, every household in the region will receive a letter outlining details of how the vaccination is being made available, getting your vaccination appointment and the agreed order in which people will receive the vaccine.

(Lead image: Julie Edwards, 56, from Cimla, Neath, manager of the Brynsiriol Nursing Home in Briton Ferry, was the first person to be vaccinated at the Orangery by nurse Joy Watts) (Neath Port Talbot Council)


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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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