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Coronavirus

Recovery app launched in Wales to help support people with long COVID

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A COVID recovery app has been launched today (20 January) as part of wider support on offer for people experiencing the longer term effects of coronavirus.

The bilingual, first of its kind, app has been developed by the NHS Wales respiratory health group on behalf of the Welsh Government and has been designed to offer people a bespoke tool and personal coach to help them on their road to recovery

With more than 100 videos and links to advice, app users will be able to record their symptoms, track their progress and learn to manage their condition at home with support. It includes advice from therapists, psychologists, dietitians and consultants.

The app is part of a wider national approach to support people with post-covid syndrome which includes supporting health professionals to recognise the symptoms, signposting people to support and providing a clear pathway for people as they go through the healthcare system.

Post-Covid-19 syndrome, also known as long covid, has been defined as signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with coronavirus that continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

It is anticipated that people are able to access the majority of the support they need close to home,  and people should only have to travel for more specialised services which have to be provided in an acute hospital setting.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said: “We are still learning about the virus but it is estimated that around that around 1 in 10 people who have had coronavirus suffer some long term symptoms. The launch of this app, which is the first of its kind, is to reassure those people that there is support available to them and that they are not alone.

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“This app is part of a wider national approach which has been put into place to recognise those people who months later are still feeling a range of cardiac, neurological and psychological issues.

“Anyone can download the app but we’re also asking health professionals to recommend it to their patients so that their care can continue at home long after their appointment ends.

“GPs are still best placed to signpost their patients to appropriate support, carry out testing to look for any treatable symptoms and refer patients to specialist consultants if necessary, this will of course mean that support is still available for anyone without a smart phone.”

Dr Fiona Jenkins, executive director of therapies at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to produce this app for the people of Wales which offers a huge range of clinical advice and allows you to support yourself, it lets you set goals, track your progress and monitor your symptoms over time.

“The vast majority of people fully recover quickly. However, we’ve seen that for some people, it can take three months or even longer for symptoms to settle.

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“The role of the GP is pivotal in ensuring any medically treatable symptoms are appropriately managed.

“Where necessary, your GP can ensure you are checked and given access to specialist consultants and held guide you through your path to recovery which largely requires a rehabilitation approach for the majority of people, and the Covid recovery app has been developed for this purpose.”


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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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